Filipinos all over the country are feeling the heat of summer with temperatures soaring to records we've never seen before. This week alone, the weather bureau in Cabanatuan City saw a record breaking heat index of 51°C, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The heat index is the actual temperature felt by the body based on air temperature and humidity.
Cabanatuan’s was just three degrees lower than what the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) considers the “extreme danger” level where heat stroke becomes an imminent threat.
In Metro Manila, PAGASA forecasts a heat index ranging from 37.9 to 38.6°C in the next five days, warranting a call for “extreme caution” from the weather bureau from heat illnesses.
Heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, are not to be taken lightly because they can be fatal. Babies, children, and the elderly are especially vulnerable.
"A child's body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight than an adult's, which means children face a much greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness," Dr. Albert C. Hergenroeder told WebMD.
What is heat exhaustion and heat stroke Heat exhaustion happens when the body struggles to keep cool, becomes very hot, and starts to loose water. It can progress to a heat stroke where the body is no longer able to cool itself causing extremely high body temperatures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and calls for immediate treatment.
How to prevent heat stroke in kids and babies
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Make sure your child stays hydrated. Give him, or teach him if he’s old enough, to drink fluids regularly even if he’s not thirsty.
Dress the child in loose, light-colored clothing. Dark colors trap heat making the wearer feel warmer. Wear a hat when going outdoors.
Limit the time he spends outdoors especially when the sun is at its highest peak from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tell him to stay in the shade whenever he is outside.
Symptoms of heat stroke:
An elevated body temperature 40ºC and up
What to do when a child suffers from a heat stroke Remember that when it comes to heat stroke time is of the essence.
First, call for help. Then, move the child to a shady spot or indoors; anywhere where it’s cooler. Undress the child and tell him to lie down with his feet elevated slightly. Cool the skin with whatever means you can; spraying cold water, using a wash cloth and applying cold packs. Target areas such as the armpits, wrists, ankles and groin. If the child is conscious, give him sips of water or other clear fluids.