DHA Public Heath Department advocates importance of heatstress management during the Holy month of Ramadan
United Arab Emirates, Dubai, July 23, 2012: The Public Health Department at the DHAadvocated the importance of heat stress management during the Holy month ofRamadan.
Dr. MuhammadWasif Alam, Director of Public Health and Safety at the DHA said the purpose ofthe awareness drive is to ensure that people are protected fromheat illnesses while fasting especially those who are working outside, in thesun, during Ramadan as they face high temperatures and high humidity levels.
Hesaid that exposure to hot and humid environment for longer period oftime causes the body to produce certain signs and symptoms known as heatillness or heat stress. “People need to be aware of this so they can taketimely action. A person who suffers from heat stress is likely to have symptomssuch as a heat rash, body aches, headaches, weakness, drowsiness and decreasein alertness.”
Hesaid in severe cases heat stress can cause unconsciousness, seizures and death.
He said, the best defenseagainst heat-related illness is to follow some basic preventative measures andto be aware of the dangers of long term exposure to the sun, especially whilefasting.
Dr.Lubna Al Shaali, from the public health department at the DHA saidthat people should be aware of the risk factors which can contribute to heatillnesses.
She said, this includes, high air temperature, heatwaves and high humidity, low air movement, working in the sun for longerperiods of time without frequent breaks, breaking the fast with foods such astea, coffee, aerated drinks and eating fatty and high salty food in excess asthese foods can cause dehydration.
She also said that skipping sahoor and lack of sleepare major contributors that can cause heat stress.
Al Shaali said that heat illness need to be takenseriously and depending on the extent of the heat illness action should betaken. She said: “Rapid cooling of the body should begin immediately. Immersebody in cold water but not chilled, Loosen clothing, move the person inshade. If the person is unconscious, do not attempt to give fluids by mouthand call an ambulance immediately.”
Shehighlighted the employers should protect their employees from heat stress byadhering to the mid-day rule, by keeping cool and safe drinking water for thosewho are not fasting and for those workers who are fasting but may require it inan emergency medical situation.
Shesaid workers should get frequent breaks and highlighted that during the firstweek of Ramadan heat stress is more common as the body takes 5 to 7 days to getused to fasting and working in the heat. Therefore, gradually increase exposureto heat.
She saidcompanies should advice their employees on what constitutes a healthy dietduring Ramadan. She advised that people should have a balanced diet withvegetables, fruits, protein, milk, yogurt and some saltine snacks. Avoid fattymeals especially fast-foods like fried chicken, fried potatoes and greasymeals. Avoid drinks which contain caffeine such as tea and coffee as cancontribute to dehydration.
She also advocated the importance of not skipping suhoormeals. She said: “Some people eat heavy dinners and skip Suhoor.This puts them at a higher risk for heat stress.”
She added, “ Simple steps can ensure a person isprotected from heat stress especially during the Holy month of Ramadan.”