Health Authority issues precautionary measures against heatwave

The Directorate for the Promotion of Health and Disease Prevention has issued a number of precautionary measures as a sweltering heatwave continues to hit the Maltese islands.

In a statement, the Directorate stressed the importance of taking the necessary precautions to avoid any negative consequences which may be caused by the heat. Among other things it pointed out the importance of drinking a lot of water during these hot summer days.

The health authorities said that over the next few days we will experience a heatwave which will last until at least Saturday. The maximum temperatures are expected to reach between 36°C and 38°C, as announced by the Met office.

The Directorate said that the high temperatures can cause the body to lose a lot of water very quickly, which results in dehydration and therefore the public should pay attention to signs such as “increased thirst, a dry mouth, dark urine, and passing urine less frequently and in small amounts.”

High tempreatures can also lead to a heatstroke. This is caused by a loss of water and salt through sweating. Common symptoms include feeling weak, feeling ill or fainting, headaches, muscle cramps, and excessive thirst.

A heat stroke is caused when the body is no longer able to cool off and the body’s temperature rises to dangerous levels. Less common but more serious, untreated symptoms include confusion, convulsions and losing consciousness. Phone 112 for emergency treatment.

The heat can affect everyone, however some people are at a more serious risk such as the elderly, babies, small children and those with chronic conditions.

To avoid the effects of a heatwave it is important to: 

• Stay away from the heat by avoiding any unnecessary exposure to the sun during the peak times, which are generally between 11am – 4pm.

• Keep cool by staying in the coolest parts of the house or workplace.

•  Close your curtains in the rooms which are facing the sun to keep indoors cooler.

•  Drink a lot of water to compensate for the loss of liquids due to sweating and eat food which is cool and fresh such as salads.

• Avoid drinks which cause more thirst such as alcohol, coffee, tea and soft drinks which contain caffeine which can cause more harm than good.

• Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.

• Avoid physical activity during the hottest part of the day, or choose an activity indoors. Alternatively exercise in the morning when the temperature is lower.

• Walk in the shade, apply sunblock, and wear a hat if you have to go out in the heat.

• Never leave anyone in a locked, parked vehicle especially babies, small children or animals.

• Seek medical advice if you have any concerns.

The health authorities ended their appeal by asking members of the public to look out for vulnerable neighbours such as the elderly, and relatives and friends who might live alone and cannot take care of themselves, to ensure that they are able to keep cool during this heatwave.