The warm and dry season was officially declared last month by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and is projected to continue until May.
Whether you’re spending time outdoors, traveling, or just enjoying the warmth from inside your home, there are a plethora of ways to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy.
The heat wave situation in the country
The Philippines is a tropical country that experiences hot and humid weather throughout the year, but the temperature can reach extreme temperatures during the summer.
Heat waves, prolonged periods of scorching weather, are becoming more common in the Philippines, with temperatures sometimes soaring above 40 degrees Celsius.
Heat waves can have serious health consequences, specifically for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, and those with chronic medical conditions. Heat stroke, dehydration, and other heat-related illnesses can occur without proper precautions.
The most common summer-related illnesses
Although summer is a much-anticipated season, it’s also the time when these common summer-related illnesses tend to strike.
1. Sunburn Sunburn is one of the most common summer diseases, and it occurs when the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays for an extended period. To steer clear of sunburn, make sure to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
2. Heat Stroke Heatstroke is a severe heat illness that occurs when the body overheats and cannot regulate its temperature. Symptoms include high body temperature, confusion, dizziness, and fatigue. A person is susceptible to heatstroke when the heat index fluctuates between 33 to 54 degrees Celsius.
To prevent heatstroke from occurring, it’s crucial to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, steer clear of outdoor activities during the hottest hours of the day, and take refuge in a cool, shady spot or an air-conditioned room whenever possible.
3. Food Poisoning Food poisoning is a typical summer illness caused by consuming contaminated food or drinks. To prevent food poisoning, wash your hands before handling food, cook meat and poultry to the appropriate temperature, and avoid leaving food in the sun for extended periods.
4. Insect Bites Insect bites can cause itching, swelling, and infection. To prevent insect bites, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, use insect repellent with DEET, and avoid standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
5. Swimmer’s Ear Swimmer’s ear is an outer ear canal infection that occurs when water gets trapped inside the ear. To prevent the swimmer’s ear, avoid swimming in dirty or contaminated water, dry your ears thoroughly after swimming, and use earplugs while swimming.
Before you head out, make sure you’re prepared for any potential health problems that might come your way. We’ve compiled a list of key things to keep in mind so you can stay safe and healthy this season:
Avoid the hottest parts of the day: Try to avoid being outdoors during the hottest parts of the day, usually from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you must be outdoors, seek shade and take breaks in a cool place.
Stay hydrated: During hot weather, it’s crucial to drink ample amounts of water. It’s best to avoid sugary beverages and alcohol, as they can exacerbate dehydration. Ensure you have a water bottle with you at all times, and remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, particularly outdoors.
Protect your skin: To avoid painful and potentially hazardous sunburns, taking precautionary measures is essential. Apply sunscreen regularly, reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Opt for protective clothing, like hats and long-sleeved shirts, and seek shade during the peak hours of sunlight.
Practice safe food handling: Summer is a time for outdoor barbecues and picnics, but it’s essential to practice safe food handling to prevent foodborne illness. Keep perishable foods, such as meat and dairy, in a cooler with ice. Wash your hands frequently and use separate cutting boards for raw meat and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
Stay cool: Seek out air-conditioned spaces when possible, or alternatively, use fans to circulate air. Stay comfortable and cool by taking refreshing showers or baths to bring down your body temperature.
Practice water safety: Whether swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean, it’s important to practice water safety to prevent drowning and other accidents. Never swim alone, and watch children closely when they’re near water. Wear life jackets if you’re boating or participating in water sports, and avoid swimming in areas with strong currents or rip tides.
Dress appropriately: Wearing light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothing made from breathable cotton or linen can help keep you cool in the heat.
Protect your eyes: The sun’s rays can also damage your eyes, so wearing sunglasses with UV protection is important. Look for sunglasses blocking at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Wear a hat to protect your face and eyes from the sun’s glare, especially if you spend time on the water or in a bright, reflective environment.
Protect yourself from insects: Mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects can be a nuisance and spread disease. Use insect repellent with DEET or another effective ingredient, and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible. After spending time outdoors, it’s essential to check yourself and your pets for ticks. Use tweezers to remove it promptly.
Take care of your mental health: Summer can be a fun and relaxing time, but it can also be stressful for some people. Take care of your mental health by practicing self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and spending time with loved ones.
Check on vulnerable populations: Elderly individuals, young children, and those with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk during hot weather. Check on them regularly and make sure they are staying hydrated and cool.
There is no shortage of ways to enjoy your summer safely and without health hazards. You can go to the beach, camping, catch some rays in your backyard, delve into a good book, or go on a mini vacation. Just remember to be cautious about your environment, and don’t let summer fun keep you from watching out for yourself and others around you.
So, stay safe and healthy, and have fun in the sun!