Beat the Risks of Summer Heat in the Philippines

The summer season is often synonymous with vacationing. The enjoyable warmth of these months allows for leisure activities without being interrupted by adverse weather conditions, simplifying the travel and packing process. According to Airbnb's 2023 statistics, searches for accommodations in the Philippines surged by nearly 400% for check-ins scheduled in March and April compared to the same period in 2022.

In 2023, the Philippines experienced extreme heat, with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) recording the highest heat index of the year on April 21, reaching 48 degrees Celsius—almost half the boiling point of water. The heat index combines air temperature and humidity to gauge how hot it feels to the body. When it gets too hot, the body sweats to cool down. However, in humid conditions, the body feels warmer with decreased perspiration, making sweating less effective and leading to heat-related issues. In the same year, over 500 students and 100 teachers and staff from a Pasay City school were sent to the clinic due to dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds, and high blood pressure caused by the hot weather.

While hot weather may seem common, overexposure to extreme heat can result in various health problems, including heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Certain individuals, such as those over 65, overweight, or with certain medical conditions, are more vulnerable.

Heatstroke, the most severe heat-related illness, occurs when the body's temperature rapidly rises, inhibiting the sweating mechanism needed for cooling. The body temperature can skyrocket within minutes, potentially causing nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, coma, permanent disability, or death. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heatstroke is crucial for prevention.

This year, the Philippines anticipates even hotter summer temperatures. PAGASA raised the probability of an El Niño alert status from 55% to 80% between June and August, indicating a higher risk of below-average rainfall, dry spells, and droughts until March 2024.

Here are some measures to stay cool and safe during the summer:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, as it can worsen heat-related illnesses. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration. Opt for water or drinks with electrolytes to replenish fluids lost through sweating.

  • Stay in Cool Areas: When feeling too warm, find refuge indoors in cooler areas.

  • Reduce Outdoor Activities: Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must be outdoors, take frequent breaks in shaded or cooler spots. Consider removing heavy clothing or equipment between activities to allow your body to cool down.

  • Be Ready: In case of heatstroke, call for assistance. While awaiting help, take steps to lower the person's temperature. Plunging them into cold water is the quickest method, or cover them with cool damp sheets. Apply ice packs or cool wet towels to their neck, armpits, and groin to help cool them down.

Stay safe and cool this summer. Remember to prioritize your health and well-being during hot weather conditions. Enjoy the sunshine responsibly!

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