DOH: Pay attention to Pagasa ‘heat’ reports

DOH 7 official hopeful to hit target during extended ‘Bayanihan Bakunahan’. (File photo)
DOH 7 official hopeful to hit target during extended ‘Bayanihan Bakunahan’. (File photo)

AS THE temperature continues to soar with the onset of the dry hot season, the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) urged the public to heed heat index reports released by state weather bureau, Pagasa.

Shelbay Blanco, DOH 7 medical officer, emphasized the importance of taking the heat index seriously as it provides crucial information on the level of discomfort caused by combined heat and humidity.

The heat index or “feels-like” temperature combines air temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather would feel to the human body.

Blanco, during a news forum at the Philippines News Agency Central Visayas on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, said the heat index reflects the body’s response to prevailing weather conditions.

As temperatures and humidity rise, the body’s ability to cool down decreases, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Blanco said heat indices pose health hazards, especially for vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and those with medical conditions.

Extended exposure to high temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat cramps, and even life-threatening heat strokes.

He said when the heat index ranges from 27 to 32 degrees Celsius, this falls under the caution category. This indicates that prolonged exposure makes fatigue possible, and continued activity may lead to heat cramps.

Between 32 to 41 degrees Celsius, the heat index is classified under the category of extreme caution suggesting that heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible, and further activity may result to a heatstroke.

The heat index is considered dangerous when it reaches the range of 42 to 54 degrees Celsius.

At this level, heat cramps and exhaustion are highly likely, and heat stroke becomes probable with continued activity.

Finally, exceeding 54 degrees Celsius marks extreme danger, indicating that stroke is imminent.

In an interview, Alfredo Quiblat Jr., head of Pagasa’s Visayas Station in Mactan Island, said Wednesday’s heat index was at 35 degrees Celsius.

Quiblat said Pagasa expects the temperature to rise on Thursday and Friday at 36 degrees Celsius. Last Tuesday, the heat index was recorded at 33 degrees Celsius.

El Niño

Quiblat said Pagasa expects the temperature to further rise in the coming weeks and Cebu’s heat index will shoot up to 45 to 47 degrees Celsius, particularly in May, when the strongest effects of the ongoing El Niño phenomenon will be felt.

“Without El Niño, the heat index could rise to 45 degrees Celsius, so during El Niño it could go higher,” he said.

Pagasa said El Niño raises sea-surface temperatures, impacting global weather patterns by shifting precipitation, temperature and atmospheric circulation, ultimately causing reduced rainfall.

Decreased rainfall in provinces can devastate agriculture, resulting in crop failures and economic losses due to water scarcity for irrigation.

Meanwhile, health experts underscore the importance of taking precautions during high heat index periods.

Individuals are advised to keep themselves hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and to avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they contribute to dehydration.

Additionally, they should seek out cool spaces, especially during the hottest hours, whether it’s through air-conditioning or fans. If neither option is available, individuals should take cool showers to lower their body temperature.

Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors to deflect heat and avoid dark colors and heavy fabrics that can trap heat is also encouraged.

To minimize heat exposure, individuals should limit outdoor activities, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and take breaks in the shade or indoors when needed. (KJF)


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