Measures to protect the public as the heat rises

Measures to protect the public as the heat rises

A series of measures are being adopted as of Tuesday to protect members of the public from the effects of a heatwave that is expected to push temperatures in Athens and other parts of the country above 40 degrees Celsius until the end of the week.

The Interior Ministry, for one, sent a circular instructing civil servants with health problems and other vulnerabilities (as evidenced by their employer or medical records) to work from home until Thursday, when the national weather service expects the mini-heatwave to start abating. 

If working from home is not feasible, they may ask for special permission to be absent and are otherwise advised to reschedule appointments.

The municipal authority in Athens, for its part, is extending the opening hours of its community centers, or so-called Friendship Clubs, so that the elderly and other vulnerable people can find some relief in their air-conditioned spaces.

These are located in Agios Pavlos (22 Mamouri & Dymis), Neos Kosmos (15 Heldreich), Votanikos (4 Kozanis), Kolokynthous (9 Aimonos & Astrous), Agios Eleftherios (372 Acharnon) and Kypseli (Skyrou & Kafkasou), Ampelokipi (Panormou & Vatheos).

Citizens may additionally contact the 24-hour Citizen Service Line on tel 1595 or the “Heatwave line” of the Municipal Clinics service (tel 210.363.8049), daily from 8.30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., to receive advice and guidance on how to deal with heat-related health problems.

Several schools in different parts of the country have also been closed and may remain that way through Thursday to protect pupils and staff from the heat.

In the meantime, the Health Ministry has issued a series of guidelines about how to protect yourself and others.

The main signs of heatstroke, it said in its circular, are a sudden rise in body temperature to 40 Celius of above that may come with hot, red and dry skin, a swollen tongue, heart palpitations, panting, intense thirst, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, a sense of mental confusion and slurring, while advanced symptoms may include sudden irrational behavior, spasming and fainting.

If anyone displays these symptoms, they need to be moved to a cool and shady spot, have their outer clothing removed, be cooled down with water either in compresses, a spray or a shower, and helped to take small sips of cool water or watered-down fruit juice.

If their symptoms persist or are severe, call for help.

Readers are advised to avoid exposure to the heat, especially during the peak midday hours, and this includes going to the beach. Heavy meals and alcohol are also not advisable.

If you do venture outside or work outdoors, try to stick to the shade, make sure to be dressed in light cotton fabrics, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, keep very well hydrated and pay attention to any physical signs of distress.

Pet owners are also advised to avoid walks during the peak hours, to make sure their animals have access to shade and plenty of water, to keep them indoors and preferably with air-conditioning when possible, and to avoid over-feeding them.

Also, when going out, why not take along an extra bottle of water to fill the bowls put out for strays?

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