The Ministry of Health and Wellness is cautioning Barbadians to take preventative measures to avoid heat-related illness. This advice comes 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 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 the most vulnerable groups include those over 65 years, people with non-communicable diseases, and people on medication that affects the body’s reaction to heat. Also included are pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, babies, young children and people 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.
The public is also advised to close blinds or curtains to block out the sun, and open windows when there is a cool breeze. They should also stay out of the sun when possible, and eat smaller meals more often, as well as more cold meals.