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2 Filipinas dead as heat wave takes toll on OFWs

03 August 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao
People doing outdoor activities are more prone to heat stroke 

Two Filipina workers have died due to heat-related causes within the past week, with the second one succumbing to the extreme weather condition only yesterday, Aug. 2, according to Labor Attache Nida Romulo.

Both were found lifeless in the toilets of their employers’ residences.

Labor Attache Romulo declined to name the two, saying their next of kin had not yet been informed of their deaths.

Meanwhile. two other Filipinas were taken to hospital in an ambulance on Tuesday for feeling unwell on the 18th floor offices of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office at Mass Mutual Tower in Wanchai.  

Romulo said the two were diagnosed to have suffered from high blood pressure and heat exhaustion.

Welfare officer Lorna Obedoza of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said the latest victim who was from Ilocos was 54 and had been working in Hong Kong since 2006. She was found dead in the morning of Aug 2.

The first victim was reportedly a 62-year-old native of La Union who was found dead on Jul 28 in the bathroom of her employer’s house in Mid-Levels. She arrived in Hong Kong in 2007.

Romulo, however, said that the police could not yet say for sure if the death was weather-related because the victim was said to be one or two days dead when her body was found.

But the labor official, who assumed her post on Jul 15, said she is alarmed at the relatively high incidence of deaths and illnesses among OFWs in this city that she is planning to launch quarterly seminars on wellness for the Filipino community.

“Our workers are too engrossed in their work that they neglect their own health. They should not forget their own health so that they can do their jobs well,” Romulo said.

Assistant Labor Attache Angelica Sunga, who is a registered nurse in the Philippines, has reportedly been tapped to conduct the quarterly wellness seminars which should start soon.

As temperatures soared to 33 degrees Celsius in urban areas over the past week, the Hong Kong Observatory has kept up the Very Hot Weather warning that it has been posting almost on a daily basis for the past two months.

The Centre for Health Protection’s public health warning is posted below:

What is heat stroke?
The human body can regulate internal temperature within safe limits spontaneously. When we get hotter, the temperature control centre inside our body will trigger responses such as sweating and increasing breathing rate to cool us down. However, when the environment becomes extremely hot and spontaneous responses cannot effectively cool down our body, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke will occur.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include giddiness, headache, nausea, shortness of breath and mental confusion. When the body temperature reaches 41°C or higher, the sufferer will have convulsion or become unconscious; and this is heat stroke. Immediately, the body temperature must be brought down and first aid be given, or else the sufferer’s life will be in great danger.

Who is at risk?
1. The obese
2. The Sick
3. The elderly
4. Children

Precautionary measures
Pay attention to the weather warning issued by the Hong Kong Observatory and take the following measures:
1. Wear light-coloured, loose and air permeable clothing to reduce heat absorption and promote heat loss from sweating.
2. Bring and drink plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration.
3. Avoid drinks containing caffeine (e.g. coffee and tea) or alcohol, because these substances will speed up water loss from the body through the urinary system.
4. Do not engage in prolonged activities such as hiking and trekking under extremely hot weather, as heat, sweating and exhaustion place additional demands on one’s physique.
5. Perform outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon, if possible.
6. Choose an indoor venue with good ventilation by opening all windows and using fan or air-conditioning. Avoid doing vigorous exercise in a hot or stuffy environment.
7. Re-schedule your work to cooler times of the day. If you must work in a hot environment, introduce shading in the work area where practicable, then start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. Take breaks every now and then in a cool area to recharge yourself.
8. Do not stay inside a parked vehicle.
9. Stop in the course of activity immediately and seek medical advice if feeling unwell.

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