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Health service plan against heatwaves

By: ELOISE WALTON

eloise@the-resident.com

A REGIONAL contingency plan against the effects of heatwaves this summer, prepared by the Algarve health administration (ARS), came into force last week and will continue until September 30.

The regional health administration said that the plan, which will be in force throughout the period where peaks of high temperature are expected, will include a three level forecast and alert system. For quick access, the ARS will also make the forecast and alert system available on their website.

The purpose of this system, which is separated into green, yellow and red, is to ensure that the health services are prepared to respond to any emergencies and minimise the effects of heat on the most vulnerable members of the population, such as children and the elderly.

The green level corresponds to normal weather and temperature conditions for the time of year, yellow will be activated if and when the temperatures are high and could cause health problems and red will be activated in case of very high temperatures, which could cause serious health problems.

Shelters

For each level, the health service will put specific measures into force, which for level red, the most severe, will include the monitoring of risk groups, with the possibility of creating shelters from the heat.

Daily recordings of the maximum temperature, humidity and ultra violet light, among other measurements, will be the basis for the forecast and alert system and will be available on the ARS website.

Other institutions, such as the emergency services (INEM) and the Portuguese Red Cross among others, are also involved in the plan to protect the population and can be mobilised throughout the summer if required.

As well as this, useful information of how to stay protected from the heat will be given to those most at risk including the elderly, people who live in isolated areas, people who are chronically ill and children.

A spokesman for ARS told The Resident: “Each year we publish informative pamphlets in both English and Portuguese, with information about how to stay protected from the sun.

“These are distributed in health centres, first aid centres at beaches and at the airport so that tourists and foreign residents can be informed.”

For more information, please contact the regional health administration on 289 889 900 or visit the website, available in Portuguese only, at www.arsalgarve.min-saude.pt.

Protect yourself from the sun

• Drink plenty of water and sugar free juices throughout the day and avoid alcohol and drinks containing caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.

• Eat light fresh meals, including fish, salads, vegetables and fruit.

• Wear light coloured, loose clothing.

• Do not leave children or the elderly sat in hot vehicles for long periods of time.

• Stay in the shade during the hottest hours of the day, between 11am and 4pm.

• Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest hours of the day.

• Wear a hat, sunglasses and a high factor sun lotion when out in the sun.

• Cool yourself down with a shower or by sitting in a cool or air conditioned room.

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