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Prevention in the face of heatwave is imperative

16 de junio de 2024 - 1:22 PM

The forecast for this summer, according to data compiled by experts, is that we will face a few months of intense heatwave, which can put at risk children, the elderly, as well as people of any age suffering from some health conditions, so it is imperative to implement measures to prevent misfortunes.

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Lee este artículo en español.

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That global warming is wreaking havoc throughout the planet is a reality, with such catastrophic events as those currently being suffered by Mexico and almost all of Central America, regions where drought and high temperatures are tormenting human beings and, in some cases, have devastated the fauna. Latin America in general has been especially affected, and in the middle of the recent austral summer, Chile and Argentina experienced unprecedented heat episodes, with almost unbearable thermal sensations.

Nothing can make us think that in Puerto Rico we will escape from what is a dangerous trend. In fact, the Committee of Experts and Advisors on Climate Change, which is the body that advises the governor, warned last February that, in all probability, there would be historic heat events this year. On the island, in many homes the situation becomes dangerous if there are prolonged power outages, such as the one that occurred on Wednesday, when there are no resources for emergency generation to allow adequate ventilation inside residences.

In the United States, some 1,200 deaths related to extreme heat are recorded annually, with the most affected by severe episodes of dehydration being children and the elderly, especially those living in low-income communities. There are no statistics on deaths caused by high temperatures on the island, unless it is obvious heat stroke, but it is unacceptable that at this point, with what we have already had during the month of May, there is no comprehensive and clear protocol to address the crisis that could arise this summer. This protocol should include the creation of shelters and, of course, fire prevention campaigns.

Schools cannot rely solely on air conditioners in classrooms. We wonder how prepared the Department of Education is in case we are hit by extreme heat for several days or weeks. They should already have a contingency plan that allows them to act without improvisation. The same applies to companies, agencies and public corporations whose workers work outdoors, those in the agricultural or construction sectors, as well as on roads and green areas, for which they should have first aid kits.

The Health Department cannot remain on the sidelines of a continuous prevention effort. In recent days, a group of physicians consulted by El Nuevo Día warned of the need to alert the population about the symptoms of extreme heat in the body, emphasizing that the situation can seriously affect asthmatics, pregnant women and those suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Just as hospitals and other healthcare personnel, including paramedics, prepare for an epidemic, or the consequences of an atmospheric event such as a cyclone, they must prepare this time for an increase in heat-related incidents.

All this represents a change of mentality, both in government and in the population. Climate change and, consequently, the high summer temperatures, need not necessarily affect the long-awaited vacation period, but a greater capacity for adaptation will be needed, given that this is a reality that is beyond us. Avoiding crowds, as the medical community has just advised, and long exposure to the sun, especially in children and adolescents who are unaware of the dangers, are measures that we will have to get used to.

It is not enough to complain about the heat; we must inform ourselves and combat it, from our homes, workplaces and schools, in the most responsible way possible.

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This content was translated from Spanish to English using artificial intelligence and was reviewed by an editor before being published.

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