Beware of heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Muscat, June 11 – Come summer, beware of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. “Always we need to remember that heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes. If it turns into heat stroke, it needs to be treated as an emergency,” explained Dr Yusuf al Mulla, Ministry of Health. “The signs of heat exhaustion could be headache, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite and feeling sick, excessive sweating and turning pale, cramps in the arms, legs and stomach, fast breathing or pulse, temperature of 38C or above in addition to being very thirsty. If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, it will be ideal to move them to a cool place and get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly. Besides providing plenty of water for them to drink, one should not forget to spray or sponge them with cool water. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too,” suggested Dr Mulla.
“Finally, any person shows signs and symptoms such as feeling hot and dry, not sweating even though they are feeling too hot, has a temperature that’s risen to 40C or above, or has rapid or shortness of breath, or indicates signs of confusion or even has a fit (seizure) or loses consciousness – implies that the individual has developed heat stroke and this is an emergency directly need to call for help,” warned the doctor. He also stressed on the importance of keeping an eye on children, the elderly and people with long-term health conditions (like diabetes or heart problems) because they’re more at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
So what are the dangers of high summer temperature? What about the outdoor workers who spend more number of hours under the sun even though since June 1 the law requires outdoor work to be halted by midday? “We know each company must follow what is known as the thermal comfort risk assessment and I am not sure if it is strictly followed by the private sector.
In addition to having air conditioners and fans at the workplace, it would be ideal if the physical effort required by the workers is reduced as well as reduce the time spent in hot environment. Workers must be encouraged to stay hydrated besides training the staff to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” stressed the health expert.
He added that sunscreen should be used on all areas of exposed skin including ears, neck and bald spots. “Sunglasses and broad brimmed hats also ought to be used, which unfortunately are ignored by many companies. It is extremely important to be aware of the workers’ medical condition — diabetes, lung or heart disease as much as reducing their exposure to extreme heat,” concluded Dr Mulla.