Myanmar is a tropical country. In later decades, as the temperatures around the world are increased, temperature in Myanmar is also increasing so that it is breaking its own records almost every year. In addition, Myanmar is also affected by El Nino weather pattern which is causing many countries hotter than ever.
What is El Nino? El Nino is an abnormal weather pattern that is caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean near the equator, off the coast of South America. This occurs when the normal trade winds weaken which lets the warm water that is usually found in the western Pacific flow instead towards the east. This warm water displaces the cooler water that is normally found near the surface of the eastern Pacific, setting of atmospheric changes that affect weather patterns in many parts of the world. In this condition, heat stroke becomes one of the most dangerous health problems.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a condition marked by fever and often by unconsciousness caused by failure of the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism when exposed to excessively high temperatures. It is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. It can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although it mainly affects people over 50 years old, heat stroke may also occur in healthy younger ones.
Heat stroke is a result from prolonged exposure to high temperatures and usually occurs in combination with dehydration. Fainting may be the first symptom of heat stroke. Others include throbbing headache, dizziness, lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot and dry skin, muscle cramps, etc.
As heat stroke is fatal, before receiving medical services, first aid methods such as putting the patient in an air-conditioned environment, removing any unnecessary clothing, fanning, wetting skin with water using a sponge, applying ice packs to armpits, groin, neck and back and immersing in a shower or tub of cool water can be done.
High risk persons are infants and children up to 4 years of age, adults over 65 years of age, obese or underweight, those with high blood pressure, diabetes, alcoholism and the ones with internal organ diseases.
Tips for prevention of heat stroke
Wearing appropriate clothes
Clothes that are light in weight, light in color and loose fitting are suitable for a hot climate. Using a wide-brimmed hat is also a good choice.
Using sunscreen lotions
Sunscreen lotions can reduce undesirable effects from sunlight. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more should be used.
Drinking more fluids
To prevent dehydration, drinking at least eight glasses of water is generally recommended. Fruit juices or vegetable juices should also be taken. During periods of extreme heat and humidity, electrolyte-rich drinks are suitable to substitute water.
Precautions during exercises and working outdoors
A careful precaution is needed when exercising or working outdoors in hot temperature. It is recommended to drink at least 700ml of water before exercising or working in that condition and should drink more frequently even if you are not thirsty.
Avoiding to go sunny areas if possible
Rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities can be done and if possible shifting outdoor times to early morning or after sunset is a good choice.
Avoiding fluids containing caffeine or alcohol
Fluids containing caffeine or alcohol should be avoided as they can make you lose more fluids. Considering electrolyte-rich juices or fruit juices are better choices.
Avoiding staying in a parked car
Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. In addition to children, older peoples and pets also should not be left in a parked car even it is parked under a shade.