Know How –
Heatwave Hazard: Impact on Human’s Health
We have come to an era where not only the economy is prone to crisis but also the environment we live in. Climate change poses a serious public health crisis that should not be underestimated. According to new climate predictions by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the annual mean global temperature is likely to be at least 1° Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in each of the coming five years (2020-2024) and there is a 20% chance that it will exceed 1.5°C in at least one year.
What is Heatwave?
Heatwave is a period of unusually hot and dry or hot and humid weather that last for two-three days, usually with a obvious impact on human’s heath, livelihood, and infrastructure.Heatwave is relative to each area normal climate pattern, temperature that people from a hotter climate consider normal may be a heatwave in a cooler area if it is above the average of normal temperature for that particular area.Unlike many climate hazards, such as tropical cyclones, tornadoes, thunderstorms and floods, heatwaves are geographically diffuse and occur over large areas.
Heatwave is among one of the dangerous natural hazards which most likely affect people who work or live outdoors.Some populations who are more prone to excess heat, includes outdoor and manual workers, those with pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, pregnant women, infants and children, and the poor.In terms of gender, study by (Havenith, 2005) shows that numbers of heatwave deaths are greater in women than in men. Women have higher core body and skin temperatures and may be less tolerant to heat than men.
What are The Impacts of Heatwave?
Heat waves have a serious impact on health and society, including heat-related illness and death. It has killed more people than all other weather-related natural disasters combined. Some of the impacts include:
- Increases in heat load and a rising body core temperature can lead to the development of heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat oedema and heat rush*.
- Dehydration and loss of body salt
- It can provoke chronic pulmonary conditions, cardiac conditions, kidney disorders and psychiatric illness.
- It can lead to deaths, many deaths and illness are actually caused by the indirect effect of heat, such as deaths due to heatstroke and the worsening of existing health conditions.
- Shortage of food supply which put livelihood at risk because of dying crops and livestock due to extreme heat.
- Power shortages or blackout due to strain on water, energy, and transportation.
- Infrastructure damages.
Heatwave is considered a pervasive natural disaster which may look less dramatic than other climate disasters like tropical cyclones, tornados, hurricanes, floods, or thunderstorms, but it actually kills more people. We should not underestimate the negative impacts it may bring, some simple tips that we can keep in mind throughout heatwave days are:
- Drink more water. Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine, or sugary drinks.
- Breakdown eating portion. Eat small meals but often.
- Wear airy and loose-fitting clothes.
- Take showers and baths with cool water.
- Stay indoor in a cool place as much as possible.
- Wear caps, sunglasses, and use umbrella when you have to go out.
Heat-related Illness Prevention at Workplace
Education about heat stress is the first important key step in reducing heat stress related accidents in the workplace. When workers and supervisors have no idea about the potential negative effects that heat stress can have on the body, it can lead to tragic consequences.
Besides education and some other tips mentioned above, using a heat stress monitoring tool such as TWL-1S is helpful to ensure worker’s safety. TWL-1S comes with instructions for work, rest and hydration plan for heat stress management across industries from Airport to Construction sites.
What is Heat Stress?
Heat stress is the effect that the thermal environment has on a person’s ability to maintain a normal body temperature. Physical work generates heat in the body which must be lost to the environment through sweating and evaporation. A hot or humid environment makes this more difficult and this can affect both mental and physical performance. Inability to get rid of body heat adequately may result in heat illness.
Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.
Other Know Hows
What is Heat Stress?
Heat stress is the effect that the thermal environment has on a person’s ability to maintain a normal body temperature. Inability to get rid of body heat adequately may result in heat illness.