Expert Dishes on Staying Safe & Comfy During This HOT HOT Heat Wave

WORDS LIM TECK CHOON

FEATURED EXPERT
DR CHAN YANJUN
Medical Director
International SOS
HEAT WAVE AT A GLACE
  • The official definition of a heat wave in Malaysia is a period when the daily maximum temperature is higher than 37ºC for 3 consecutive days.
  • As of 12 May 2023, the Ministry of Health has recorded a total of 14 cases of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke (4 cases), heat exhaustion (4 cases) and heat cramps (6 cases).
  • The Ministry expects the number of such cases to increase until August 2023!
Heat awareness at a glance, courtesy of International SOS. Click for a larger, clearer version.

Dr Chan Yanjun tells us: “Heat waves can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can have severe consequences on health. It is crucial to prioritize personal well-being and take necessary precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.”

COMMON HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES
  • Heat stroke occurs when your body overheats—your body temperature goes over 40ºC—and it can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles if you didn’t receive prompt treatment. This is considered a medical emergency.
  • Heat exhaustion is the result of excessive sweating in high temperatures, which leads to enormous amount of loss of water and salt. Symptoms include heavy sweating, dizziness, thirst, decreased urine output nausea, and vomiting. Without prompt medical attention, this can lead to heatstroke.
  • Heat cramps occur in your muscles due to depletion of water and salt as a result of excessive sweating.  These cramps, which can be painful, usually occur in muscles of the calves, thighs, and shoulders.
DR CHAN’S 5 TIPS TO STAY HEALTHY & COMFY DURING A HEAT WAVE
TIP 1: STAY HYDRATED
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, regularly (about every 20 minutes) even before you feel thirsty.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and very sugary drinks, as they can contribute to dehydration.
TIP 2: DRESS APPROPRIATELY
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-coloured clothing to allow your body to breathe and stay cool.
  • Protect your head and face with a hat and use sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
TIP 3: SEEK SHADE
  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun, particularly during peak heat hours.
  • If possible, stay indoors or find shaded areas when the sun is at its strongest, typically between 10 am and 4 pm.
TIP 4: TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
  • If engaging in outdoor activities, schedule frequent breaks to rest and cool down in shaded areas.
  • Listen to your body and do not overexert yourself.
TIP 5: MONITOR HIGH-RISK INDIVIDUALS
  • Keep a close eye on children, elderly individuals, and those with pre-existing medical conditions, as they are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
  • Ensure they have access to cool environments and sufficient hydration.

Important Advice & Tips to Plan & Prepare for a Flood

WORDS LIM TECK CHOON

FEATURED EXPERT
DR CHAN YANJUN
Medical Director
International SOS

“With forecasts indicating that our rainy season is far from over, Malaysians need to be prepared in case of floods,” advises Dr Chan Yanjun. “While there are many different actions people should undertake in a flood situation, the most important rule is do not try to walk, swim or drive through flood water. Cars and people can be swept away, so always remember safety first and to stay alert so you don’t get hurt.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO TO SAFEGUARD YOURSELF & YOUR LOVED ONES IN CASE OF A FLOOD
  • Identify flood or landslide-prone areas near you. Watch weather alerts and warnings.
  • Stock up enough water (ration roughly 4 litres per person per day) and dry food for 3 days.
  • Know your community’s evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations.
  • If you are stranded, injured or ill, contact your local emergency services department and wait for help.
IF A FLOOD HITS YOUR HOME, REMEMBER THESE POINTERS
  • Check the drainage system behind or outside your house to see the water levels. The higher the water level climbs, the more likely you will have to evacuate.
  • Switch off all gas, electricity, and water when electricity supply is down, water has entered your home, or before you evacuate. Make sure to unplug appliances to avoid electrical shock when power returns.
  • Move to higher ground. Only move to the roof if necessary.
  • If your family is advised to evacuate, do so immediately (lock gates and doors before leaving if possible).
WHEN YOU ARE ON THE ROAD DURING A FLOOD
  • Stay off bridges as they can be washed away in severe floods.
  • Stay inside your vehicle if you are trapped by rapidly moving water.
  • Move to the roof of your car if water starts to fill the interior.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE FLOOD
  • Do not return home unless advised to do so. Wait for a signal by authorities or emergency services on the status of your housing area.
  • Look out for animals that may be inside your house. This includes snakes, lizards and even crocodiles.
  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until clean-up has been completed.
  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during clean-up of affected area.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, moulding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.
  • Have your onsite waste-water system professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage.
  • After completing the clean-up, wash your hands with soap and clean water.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the clean-up in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.