‘Brace for extreme heat in Holy Week’

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Ilonggos are set to observe the Holy Week or Semana Santa under extreme heat, with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) forecasting a heat index reaching as high as 40 degrees Celsius.

On March 27, Iloilo City, Roxas City, and the town Mambusao in Capiz were among the seven areas in the country that experienced a “dangerous” heat index based on the state weather bureau’s forecast.

Residents in these Western Visayas areas have felt temperatures soaring up to 42 degrees Celsius, surpassing the “danger” level of Pagasa’s heat index.

In its 2-day forecast released on March 26, Pagasa forecasted that on Thursday, March 28, areas in the Western Visayas region may experience a heat index ranging from 41 to 43 degrees Celsius.

The state weather bureau said that such high temperatures can lead to heat cramps and heat exhaustion, with heat stroke becoming probable with prolonged exposure to the scorching heat.

Pagasa has recommended several preventive measures against heat-related illnesses:

  • Limit the time spent outdoors;
  • Drink plenty of water;
  • Avoid tea, coffee, soda, and liquor;
  • Wear umbrellas, hats, and sleeved clothing outdoors; and Schedule heavy-duty activities for the beginning or end of the day, when it’s cooler.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WVCHD) has also issued its 10 ways the public can follow in the observance of the Holy Week.

DOH-WVCHD particularly cautioned the public to avoid alcoholic drinks, and limit juice and soft drink consumption.

It also encouraged the protection from the sun with sunscreen and appropriate clothing, along with maintaining cleanliness in food preparation to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Individuals who will subject themselves to flagellation (penetensya) are also warned to ensure that nails, whips, and other sharp objects used for devotion are well sterilized to avoid contracting Tetanus infection.

The Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) reminded the public to stay hydrated and ensure to take maintenance medication for those with high blood pressure or hypertension.

“During outdoor activities, especially for those with high blood pressure, ensure you have taken your maintenance medication since the extreme heat can exacerbate conditions. Also, make sure to carry safe drinking water with you,” said Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon, head of the IPHO.

“At least drink eight to ten glasses daily or more,” she added.

For individuals who sweat excessively, Colmenares-Quiñon said to intake food that can replenish the electrolytes that have been lost and used to avoid dehydration.

“Eat potassium-rich food like bananas or apples. You can also have your oral rehydration solutions,” she said, emphasizing that it would help in preventing electrolyte imbalance.

The IPHO head further emphasized the high risk of heat stroke and appealed to senior citizens to stay indoors.


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