•On World Health Day, experts urge Nigerians to stay indoors, drink fliuds to avoid scourge
By Job Osazuwa
As the international community marks World Health Day, there is growing concern in Nigeria over the hot weather being experienced across the country. Rising temperatures, accompanied by searing heat waves are keeping many uncomfortable, especially at night time.
Experts want Nigerians to safeguard themselves from the scorching sun and attendant heat-related diseases.
Recently, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), warned that many Nigerians would likely experience “above danger heat stress” due to the combined effects of heat and high humidity.
With the global average temperature hitting 1°C higher than what obtained last year, NIMET alerted Nigerians to brace up for hotter days, warmer nights and heat waves.
Daily Sun gathered that the North is currently experiencing discomforting hot weather. For instance, a resident of Kaduna, Emmanuel Eshiotse, told the reporter on phone that the weather there was “super hot.”
“What we face here is terrible. It is hot in the day and at night.
“Our only saving grace at night is that we have relative stable power supply in Kaduna. Otherwise, so many of us could have been on admission beds now. Kaduna weather is something else this period; we pray it doesn’t continue for long,” he said.
An indigene of Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr. Olie Michael, described the weather condition in the area as “very unfriendly.” He said: “It has been hotter than usual in the last 10 days. I can’t understand what brought this unusual change.
“Why have the various bodies, which ought to disseminate information to the public on a matter like this, failed to enlighten people on what to do to stay healthy?”
Similarly, Ephraim Abraham, a journalist based in Sokoto, has described the weather there as strange. He said that the state was known for hot weather, but the last two weeks have been very unusual with the heat tormenting everyone, man and animal alike.
According to him, “There are days the sun rises as early as 7am. It is not easy, but we are surviving it. Even when it rained the other time, the following day was still as hot as ever. Everybody complains that such weather has not been witnessed in recent years.”
But in Bayelsa State, Mr. Dandy Osagie, said it had been raining daily in the past two weeks, adding that the weather was cool and friendly.
In Benin, Edo State, it was learnt that the temperature had been cold and hot, sunny today and rainy the next day.
In the light this prevailing weather condition, health experts have been speaking on the need for people to stay healthy.
Dr. Akagba Monday Egbenerinde said, with the current hot weather, the rate of water loss from the skin and mucous membranes could escalate and there was a greater tendency for people to get dehydrated, insisting that it was bad for the kidney. He said, in order to stay healthy this period, people should take plenty of fluid, at least three litres of water daily.
He also warned Nigerians to avoid excessive exposure to the sun, to prevent sunburns. To those who work in the sun, he suggested they wear light clothing and avoid nylon and dark clothes. He claimed that kids tended to absorb and retain more heat leading to heat rashes.
Dr. Egbenerinde said this was the season to avoid staying in the sun, to prevent stroke.
“Do more exercise and take a shower. When you do this, the sweat from your skin cools your body as it evaporates. You can follow up by taking a shower.
“Hand and rechargeable fans would also do a lot of good because of the epileptic power supply in many areas, which seems to render conventional fans less useful,” he said.
Egbeneride also advised members of the public to keep away from using oily creams to avoid feeling hot and uncomfortable throughout the season. He recommended lotions instead.
According to him, ailments associated with the extreme heat included dehydration, headaches, heat cramps, exhaustion, stroke and rashes adding that meningitis could escalate in severe hot weather. Those at higher risk of falling sick were people who are 65 years and above and children under four, people with obesity and heart diseases.
Similarly, a public health consultant, Mrs. Ope Okebukola, has advised Nigerians not to wait until they get thirsty before drinking water.
“Some of the natural things people should do are to reduce the amount of time they spend outside the house, especially when the sun is very hot. It is advisable to stay indoors; but in cases where one needs to be out, one should use an umbrella.
“People should eat foods that are light; reduce intake of too much carbohydrates. Eat more salads, fresh vegetables and fruits and take their bath as many times as possible every day. People, especially children, should endeavour sleep in places where there is sufficient air.”
She also spoke against leaving little kids locked up in the car, warning that it could lead to suffocation and even death, if help comes late; the average temperature, she said, might exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
“People should monitor their blood pressure as frequently as possible because prevention is the best way to enjoy good health. Everyone has different natural fight agents to resist or survive harsh weather. Some persons might easily fall ill while others lead near normal life in the face of this unfriendly weather. It is not something to really worry about, but awareness is the key thing,” Okebukola said.
NIMET, in its 2017 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction, said that if the prevailing heat lasts for long, it might cause heat stress, which could lead to several illnesses called hyperthermia. The agency warned that older people could have a tough time dealing with the heat and humidity, adding that most people who died of hyperthermia globally each year as a result of the challenge were over 50.
According to the agency, heat syncope (consciousness) could happen when one is active outdoors in hot weather.
“Heat cramps are the painful tightening of muscles in the stomach, arms or legs, which can result from hard work. Heat exhaustion is a warning that the body can no longer keep itself cool; people might feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated and nauseated accompanied by lots of sweating. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke and people need to get medical help right away,” NIMET said.
Similarly, the World Meteorological Organisation warned recently that the drastic shifts seen in the global climate system that resulted in a range of alarming records in 2016 might continue unabated in many African countries and some other continents.
“We are now in truly unchartered territory,” David Carlson, head of the World Climate Research Programme, said in a release.
He noted that even without a strong El Nino, a phenomenon that brings generally warmer temperatures every four to five years, 2017 was “seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging our understanding of the climate system. With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident.”
The UN agency said that, increasingly, powerful computers and the availability of long-term climate data had made it possible to “demonstrate clearly the existence of links between man-made climate. change and many cases of high-impact extreme events, in particular, heat waves.”