Malaysians On Level 1 Alert For Possible Heat Wave

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 MAY 2023 – Malaysians are facing a possible heat wave and are exposed to increased health risks with temperatures remaining very high across Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, heat waves are defined when the daily maximum temperature exceeds 37 degrees Celsius for three (3) consecutive days. As on 12 May 2023, The Ministry of Health (MOH) recorded a total of 14 cases of heat-related illness amid the current hot spell. Of that number, four were heat stroke cases, four more due to heat exhaustion while another six were related to heat cramps. MOH Malaysia expects the number of such cases to increase in this hot weather till August 2023.

International SOS, the world’s leading security and health services company, is actively addressing the ongoing heat wave in Southeast Asia, providing essential guidance to ensure the safety and wellbeing of individuals living in or traveling to the region. As temperatures soar and the risk of heat-related illnesses increases, International SOS emphasizes the importance of taking precautionary measures to stay safe and healthy.

Dr Chan Yanjun, Medical Director at International SOS, highlights the importance of being proactive during such extreme weather conditions. She states, “Heat waves can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can have severe consequences on health. It is crucial to prioritise personal well-being and take necessary precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.”

“The normal human body temperature is 37± 1°C. For our internal body temperature to be maintained around 36–37.5°C, there must be equilibrium between the amount of heat generated within the body and the heat transfer to or from it,” Dr Chan continues. “In hot environments, people need up to 3 litres of fluid per day compared to the 2 litres per day on a cooler day. Besides keeping hydrated, the human body can become more tolerant to heat through a process called ‘acclimatisation’ where our body adapts to the environment. This process happens over several days to a week – not in a few hours. Acclimatisation is useful after 7-10 days of exposure, with a progressive approach of 2 hours per day in hot environment,” she adds.

To assist the public in staying safe during the heat wave, International SOS offers the following five essential tips:

Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, regularly – about every 20 minutes, before you feel thirsty. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol and very sugary drinks, as they can contribute to dehydration.

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.

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 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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.

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.

International SOS continues to closely monitor the situation and advises individuals to heed the guidance of local authorities regarding any specific measures or restrictions implemented due to the heat wave.

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