The Canary Islands Government Ministry of Health have issued warnings of potential risk to health from a heatwave in coming days with high temperatures expected to trigger the regional government’s Plan for Prevention of the Effects of High Temperatures on People’s Health that is in force every year from June 1.
As of today, Thursday, August 17, warnings are expected for high temperatures in the following municipalities of Gran Canaria:
Red Notice : Agaete, Agüimes, Gáldar, Ingenio, San Bartolomé and Santa Lucía de Tirajana, are all forecast to experience higher than usual summer temperatures until at least Wednesday 23 August.
A Yellow warning has also been issued for Valsequillo
Regional Government Health Hazard Warnings
Health hazard warnings such as these are issued by the Regional Government when expected maximum and minimum temperatures are reached simultaneously. These are termed as temperature thresholds, and are set by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency. Temperature thresholds currently range between 32ºC degrees maximum, in the shade, and 24ºC degrees minimum. Studying the forecasts by municipalities allows for more specific and better adjusted warnings so that individual municipalities can take appropriate measures.
The Canary Islands Directorate General of Public Health coordinates the operation of the Plan, and alerts municipalities, health centres and hospitals in areas with high temperature warnings to take extra precautions, especially among the most vulnerable groups : elderly, children and the chronically ill.
Health hazard warnings, due to exposure to high temperatures, are different from the civil protection alerts, which are issued by emergency services and refer to other types of risks to humans and the environment due tohigh temperatures.
The Plan for Prevention of the Effects of High Temperatures on People’s Health establishes four different levels of health risk, identified by colour, according to the expected temperatures and their duration in time:
If the expected maximum and minimum temperatures do not reach the established threshold, this corresponds to Level Zero or an absence of risk (which is represented by the colour Green ).
Level One is activated for low risk (Yellow warning) when the weather forecasts indicate temperatures in the shade are equal to or greater than 32º maximum and 24º minimum (in the case of the Canary Islands) for one or two days.
Level Two or Medium Risk (Orange Warning) is activated, if the expected duration is 3 or 4 days.
Level Three or high risk (Red Warning) is activated if the expected duration reaches 5 days or more.
Key measures to avoid risks to health
One of the key measures to avoid health risks when high temperatures occur is to drink more water, regardless of the type of activity being performed, do not wait to feel thirsty. Pay special attention to children, the elderly and chronicly ill patients who are more predisposed to the negative effects by the heat.
Don´t forget your pets too!
On days with high temperatures expected, avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol or very sugary beverages. In addition, avoid large meals and do not consume foods that may contaminate easily (such as mayonnaise), opt for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (taking precaution to wash them before consumption).
For the most vulnerable groups, on hot days, it is best to stay at home, or better to complete outside activities first thing in the morning or at the end of the day when the temperatures are cooler. Always try to avoid being out during the middle of the day when temperatures are higher.
It is important to reduce physical activity as much as you can, and those who engage in outdoor sports when there is excessive heat should do so early or late in the day. If you do have to leave home, protect yourself with a hat and wear comfortable, loose clothing.
Increased nighttime temperatures can disrupt sleep and alter sleep patterns. To avoid this, proper ventilation of the bedroom is important, leaving doors and windows open to help generate some air current to prevent a ‘sauna effect’.
If in spite of these preventive measures you feel symptoms of heat discomfort, dizziness, or collapse, it is recommended you cool your body with a sponge or wet towels, take a bath if you are not feeling dizzy, drink fresh non-alcoholic liquids and, if symptoms do not subside refer to a doctor as soon as possible or through the main emergency number 112 .