Health ministry urges preventative measures in current heat wave

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Health ministry urges preventative measures in current heat wave

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Health and Wellness is advising the public to take preventative measures when dealing with the excessive heat currently being experienced across the island.

Kingston recorded 39.1 degrees Celsius over the weekend, making it the hottest the parish has ever recorded, the ministry said in a statement.

“Jamaica, as other countries in the Caribbean, has a heat season that is typically between May and October each year. This year, extremely high temperatures are being recorded. The public is, therefore, advised to take precautionary measures to reduce exposure to heat and limit the serious effects it can have on the body,” the ministry added.

Individuals are urged to stay hydrated by consuming more water, avoiding the midday sun, using cooling devices, and wearing light weight, breathable clothing.

Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services at the ministry Dr Nicole Dawkins-Wright explained that heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat (muscle) cramps, and the most severe illness, heat stroke, adding that heat stroke may be fatal.

The ministry said signs associated with a heat stroke include a very high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit), hot and dry skin, a throbbing headache and dizziness. Other signs includealtered mental state or behaviour, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate.

“If any of these signs are noted, seek medical assistance immediately while finding ways to cool down the person, such as sponging with cold water, wrapping the person in a wet, cold sheet and fanning the person vigorously,” advised Dawkins-Wright.

The ministry also made note of the effects that can be triggered due to the extreme heat stress in some medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.

Among the most vulnerable are the elderly, as well as infants and children younger than six years of age, people who are overweight, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

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