Guidelines on how to avoid heat stress
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DHA preparing unified guidelines for schoolchildren, labourers and sports persons
A detailed guide on how to watch out for and manage heat stress in students and athletes, among others, is being readied for the summer of 2013.
“Heat stress can range from mild to extreme and can also kill,” explained Dr Wasif Alam, Director, Public Health and Safety Department, Health Policy and Strategy Sector, Dubai Health Authority. “So it should not be taken lightly,” he added.
The guidelines will be unified for the UAE and are the first to describe in detail the signs, symptoms and treatment for heat stress in five languages — Arabic, English, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu.
“We want to tell people how to recognise the early signs and symptoms, how to monitor heat stress on a daily basis and even describe people in the high-risk category,” said Dr Wasif whose department is preparing the guidelines in collaboration with the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi, Dubai Municipality, UAE University and Ministry of Labour.
The guide will include more pictures and diagrams to make understanding it easy, added the doctor.
The UAE, like other Middle Eastern countries with desert environments, experiences daytime temperatures that often exceed 45 degree Celsius, especially in July and August, which can expose people to environmental heat.
“For example, we want to train educators, supervisors and physical education teachers in recognising the early symptoms in children,” said Dr Wasif. Schools will also be encouraged to provide more shady spots, provide safe and cool drinking water to students as well as conduct all physical education classes before 10am.
The authority will also conduct workshops for emergency doctors on recognising the symptoms among patients.
The guidelines will be based on the heat index — humidity and temperature. “In August, humidity is higher in the evening than in the morning, and this may affect many people,” he added.
“Heat stress can be lethal and it is 100 per cent preventable using common sense,” he said, adding that drinking cool and safe water could prevent people from being affected by heat stress. “Eating a salty cracker for breakfast can cut out the need to drink any electrolyte drink,” added Dr Wasif.
The authority is also compiling statistics on the number of heat-related cases.