The Ministry of Health and Wellness has cautioned Barbadians to take preventative measures to avoid heat-related illness, in light of the heatwave experienced last week and expected to continue this week.
A heatwave is generally defined as a period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot weather that could impact on human health, community infrastructure and services.
According to the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, heatwave season occurs annually from May to October.
The Ministry, in a statement issued today, noted that exposure to extreme heat can cause severe symptoms such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion may include sweating, rapid heart rate, headache or nausea. Heat stroke may include confusion, seizures or unconsciousness.
Heat-related illness may affect anyone, but population groups which are most vulnerable comprise persons over 65 years, persons with non-communicable diseases, and persons on medication that affects the body’s reaction to heat.
Also included are pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, babies, young children and persons who are physically active outside.
Recommended ways of preventing heat-related illness include:
- drinking water, even when you do not feel thirsty;
- keeping cool by taking cool showers, putting your feet in cool water or using wet towels on your neck and arms;
- wearing cool, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and avoiding strenuous activity;
- closing blinds or curtains to block out the sun, and opening windows when there is a cool breeze;
- staying out of the sun when possible;
- and eating smaller meals more often, as well as more cold meals.
The Ministry urged persons to watch or listen to news that provide updates on the heatwave.