Public told: Limit sun exposure, take heat breaks amid rising heat index

Despite the scorching sun, these market heroes at Carbon Public Market in Cebu City keep the watermelons flowing from Iloilo Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Despite the scorching sun, these market heroes at Carbon Public Market in Cebu City keep the watermelons flowing from Iloilo Thursday, April 18, 2024.(Photo by Amper Campaña)

A STATE meteorologist has cautioned the public to exercise caution, advising against staying under the sun for over 20 minutes, and also urging them to take heat index reports seriously.

Chief Alfredo "Al" Quiblat, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas director, also encouraged workers to take heat breaks to cool down, especially those who work outdoors.

"Yes. Twenty minutes or more, we should not have prolonged exposure to the sun, and we should take a break and find shade to cool down," Quiblat told SunStar Cebu.

Also read: Pagasa: Easterlies to worsen Cebu’s hot, humid weather

This comes amidst the increased heat index as high as 38 degrees Celsius, as experienced by Cebuanos, prompting the public to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves.

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

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


Earlier, SunStar Cebu shared photos on social media capturing a group of construction workers bravely enduring the scorching sun while working at a site along M.J. Cuenco Avenue in Cebu City, even amidst the intense heat at 11 a.m.

The post garnered over a thousand reactions, with most comments expressing concerns about the health and safety of the construction workers.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of this month, it was reported that a 58-year-old man was found lifeless on the sidewalk of Escario Street in Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City allegedly succumbing to heat stroke.

Heat breaks

On April 8, a national media outlet reported that Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma announced the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) advocates for a flexible work arrangement to safeguard workers' health against heat-related illnesses.

“Employers and employees could agree on a flexible work arrangement until such time that the weather condition has improved while maintaining the total number of work hours,” Laguesma said.

He urged employers to place free drinking water near workstations and to ensure effective ventilation and heat insulation in all work areas to eliminate heat and humidity.

Labor groups, including the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Federation of Free Workers, support DOLE's action, reminding employers of Labor Advisory 8, series of 2023, which instructs them to assess health risks due to extreme heat and take appropriate mitigation measures.


Quiblat and other weather experts have consistently emphasized the importance of avoiding the sun from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., saying these hours are the peak period when the human body experiences the most intense heat.

However, experts from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7) have raised concerns, recommending that people should begin staying indoors as early as 9 a.m.

Quiblat also advised the public to always adhere to the heat index report that the weather bureau announces.

Dr. Shelbay Blanco, DOH 7 medical officer, last March emphasized that as temperatures and humidity increase, the body's ability to cool down decreases, raising the risk of heat-related illnesses.

He warned that heat indices endangered vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and individuals with medical conditions.

The weather expert also said that people stay hydrated with liquids, except soft drinks and coffee due to their potential to contribute to dehydration.

These beverages, containing caffeine and sugar, act as diuretics, increasing urine production and potentially causing fluid loss.

Quiblat advises wearing light-colored outfits to stay cooler in hot weather. Light colors reflect sunlight, reducing heat absorption and ensuring comfort in warm temperatures.

Intense heat

In a separate interview, weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino of Pagasa Visayas said that the high heat felt is due to the ongoing dry hot season and drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

Last March 22, Pagasa declared the end of the northeast monsoon, also known as amihan, signaling the start of the summer season in the Philippines.

Despite the absence of a specific summer season, Filipinos commonly refer to the dry season as such during April and May.

Additionally, he said that Cebuanos will experience humid air due to the ongoing easterlies weather system.

Easterlies in tropical countries like the Philippines refer to eastward winds that bring warm, moist air from the Pacific Ocean, resulting in humid and hot conditions. (KJF)


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