Country now under excessive heatwave warning

The threat of health problems is greatest for sensitive groups (Photo courtesy Medical News Today)
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An excessive heatwave warning is currently in effect for Antigua and Barbuda which is expected to last until today. The country has been under a heat watch over the past few days, but that has now been upgraded.

An excessive heat warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of dangerously hot conditions. The threshold for this warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 41 °C or 106 °F or higher, for two or more consecutive days, with the winds 18km/h (11mph) or less.

Climatologist Dale Destin said yesterday that ‘feels-like’ temperatures will be as high as 45 °C or 113 °F.

The threat of health problems is greatest for sensitive groups, and Destin is warning of the potential for extensive impacts.

“While extreme heat can put everyone at risk for heat illnesses, health risks are greatest for the elderly, young children, people with chronic illnesses such as breathing difficulties, heart conditions or psychiatric illnesses, people who work or who exercise in the heat, homeless people and low-income earners,” he said.

The excessive heat could also trigger heat illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Heat illnesses can lead to long-term health problems and heat stroke can lead to death, Destin said.

Residents are being cautioned that ifany symptoms of such conditions are present – such as dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, or extreme thirst – they should immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids; water is best.

The most dangerous heat illness is heat stroke, with symptoms that include complete or partial loss of consciousness or confusion, and high body temperature.

If caring for someone with those symptoms, persons should call 911 immediately.

“While waiting for help, cool the person right away by moving them to a cool place, applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing and fanning the person as much as possible,” Destin said.

Everyone should stay alert, he said.

“And take precautions – stay cool and hydrated. Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.

“Those who take medication or have a health condition should ask their doctor if the medication increases their health risk in the heat, and they should follow the medical recommendations,” the climatologist added.

Climate change is causing global temperatures to rise. Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, released into Earth’s atmosphere in large volumes are trapping the sun’s heat, causing the planet to warm.

This has brought more extreme weather, including record-breaking high temperatures across the world.

Periods of intense heat do occur within natural weather patterns, but scientists say that globally they are becoming more frequent, more intense and are lasting longer as a result of global warming.

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