Prevention is better than cure for Algarve heat wave

THREE LEVELS of alert have been devised for Algarve emergency services dealing with heat wave victims. Yellow is for temperatures between 32º and 35º, Amber is 36º-42º and Red is reserved for temperatures of 42º and above.

Produced by the Centro Regional para a Saúde Pública do Algarve (CRSPA), the regional centre for public health, the alerts form part of a recently presented plan to make sure local resources are sufficient to deal with heat problems as they arise.

The CRSPA’s plan will operate in conjunction with the Regional Health Administration and is fully compatible with the Plan for Civil Protection and Forest Fire Contingency.Prevention forms one of the fundamentals of the scheme and Algarve residents are soon to receive, through their letterboxes, leaflets giving recommendations as to how best cope with the hot weather.

Among those identified as particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat are the aged, young children, people suffering from obesity and those suffering from chronic diseases, such as heart conditions, breathing difficulties, kidney problems, diabetes and alcoholism.

Among the recommendations are:

• drink water or natural fruit juices without sugar even when you are not thirsty

• avoid fizzy alcoholic drinks

• avoid direct exposure to the sun between 11am and 3pm

• never leave children, the aged or the sick inside vehicles exposed to the sun.

Heat waves have been recorded to occur, on average, every 10 years, but the authorities emphasise that, while there is no particular cause for alarm at present in spite of the precautions, heat waves are notoriously unpredictable and, in view of this year’s drought situation, extra measures are being taken to make people more aware of heat related ailments.

In 2003, over the whole of Portugal, 2,099 people died during July and August, with the highest number of deaths being recorded among elderly people living alone.

• A Public Health helpline has been set up to answer any questions on the effects of heat – the number to ring is 808 211 311.