Public advised to take care as temperatures soar

LOUISA TANG Today Online 21 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — With the daily average temperature soaring to a record high earlier this week, several Government agencies and ministries on Wednesday (April 20) issued a joint advisory to the public to take precautions to minimise heat-induced illnesses.

On Tuesday, the Changi climate station recorded the highest-ever daily mean temperature of 30.6°C, beating the previous record of 30.2°C which the station recorded last June. On the same day, the Pasir Panjang weather station, which has been operational since 2010, recorded a temperature of 31.3°C.

The highest daily maximum temperature recorded on Monday was 36°C at Choa Chu Kang. The long-term mean monthly temperature for April is 28°C.

For the rest of the week, high temperatures can still be expected although a gradual easing is likely, based on Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) forecasts.

Closer to the weekend, more showers may be expected, which would bring a brief respite to the current warm conditions, said a joint advisory from the National Environment Agency and the Health, Manpower, Education, and Social and Family Development ministries.

The advisory said that temperatures in Singapore are not likely to reach 40°C, as recently experienced in northern Peninsula Malaysia, despite the current warm conditions.

This is because of the moderating effect of the surrounding seas on the temperature.

The general public is encouraged to, among other things, wear loose-fitting and light coloured clothing; drink fluids to stay hydrated; and take more breaks between activities.

Sustained outdoor activities at schools, childcare centres and kindergartens should be minimised during hotter parts of the day (between 11am to 4pm), while staff and students are encouraged to drink enough fluids before, during and after exercise to prevent heat injuries.

Employers are advised to schedule heavy physical work or outdoor work to the cooler parts of the day. There should also be shaded areas for work and rest, and cool drinking water provided at convenient and accessible locations.

Residents in children’s and elderly homes — who are more susceptible to heat injury — should stay in well-ventilated rooms and be brought to an air-conditioned room to cool down.

Separately, Chief Army Medical Officer Poon Beng Hoong posted on the Ministry of Defence’s Cyberpioneer Facebook page that the “health and safety of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen are of paramount importance”.

Adding that the SAF is “accustomed to training in the heat and is well-equipped to manage the risk of heat injuries”, Col Poon said the SAF has established a work-rest cycle guideline to correspond with the different Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) readings, which is a composite temperature of the ambient temperature, wind speed and relative humidity.

In addition to a heat acclimatisation programme, other measures include shorter training intervals when temperatures are high.

Despite the high temperatures in recent days, Singapore is not yet gripped by a heatwave.

In Singapore, a heatwave occurs when the daily maximum temperature is at least 35°C for three consecutive days, and the daily mean temperature throughout the period is at least 29°C, based on readings averaged across three designated stations with long-term temperature records.

Since 1980, Singapore has experienced five episodes of heatwaves, the last one being in 2010. Four of them happened during a very strong El Niño, and the longest heatwave lasted for 16 days in April 1983.

Temperatures in Singapore not likely to reach 40 deg Celsius: MSS
However, in light of the significantly warmer temperatures, several Government agencies are urging the public to minimise risk of heat-induced illnesses.
Channel NewsAsia 20 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Several Government agencies on Wednesday (Apr 20) issued a joint statement, urging the public to take measures to minimise risk of heat-induced illnesses as Singapore experiences significantly warmer temperatures.

The advisory, sent out by the National Environment Agency, Ministry of Manpower, the Health Ministry, Education Ministry and Ministry of Social and Family Development noted that the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) has recorded very high temperatures in the past few days.

On Sunday and Monday, the daily maximum temperatures recorded at weather stations islandwide ranged between 31.4°C and 36.4°C and between 31.3°C and 35.8°C respectively. The highest daily maximum temperature recorded on Tuesday was 36°C and as of 3pm on Wednesday it was 35.1°C. Both were recorded at Choa Chu Kang.

On Tuesday, the diurnal registered a reading of 31.3°C at Pasir Panjang, the highest daily mean temperature recorded in Singapore so far this year.

At the Changi climate station, the daily mean temperature on Apr 19 was 30.6°C, surpassing the highest ever recorded daily mean temperature of 30.2°C on Jun 22, 2015. The long-term mean monthly temperature for April is 28.0°C.

April is the warmest month of the year, the agencies said. However, despite the current warm conditions, the temperature in Singapore is not likely to reach 40°C as it did in northern Peninsular Malaysia due to the "moderating effect of our surrounding seas on the temperature" they added.

For the rest of the week, MSS forecasts that high temperatures can still be expected, although a gradual easing is likely. Localised thundery showers are expected in the afternoon. Closer to the weekend, more showers may be expected, which would bring a brief respite to the current warm conditions.

Advisory for General Public

To minimise the risk of heat-induced illnesses during warm weather, the public are encouraged to take the following precautionary measures:

Wear loose-fitting, heat permeable and light coloured clothing;
Drink fluids to stay hydrated;
Take more breaks between activities;
Reduce outdoor activities during the hottest time of the day or stay in the shade;
Sponge with cool or ice water;
Plan sport and exercise activities during the cooler hours of the day; and
Watch for early symptoms of heat-induced illness and seek medical attention if the condition persists or worsens.
Symptoms of heat-induced illness include headache, nausea, dizziness, fainting, rapid heart rate, poor concentration, muscle ache, muscle cramps, blurred vision, loss of co-ordination, disorientation or confusion, seizures or fits, vomiting, and decreased and dark-coloured urine. Please consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms.

Advisory for Schools, Child Care Centres, Kindergartens and Homes

Sustained outdoor activities should be minimised during the hotter period of the day and the intensity of these activities moderated. Staff and students are encouraged to drink appropriate amount of fluids to prevent heat injuries, with appropriate rest and water breaks considered.

Centres/homes can consider the following measures when conducting outdoor physical activities:

Encourage children to drink appropriate amount of fluids (preferably plain water) before, during and after exercise to prevent heat injuries. Drinking water should always be made available to the children.
Keep outdoor activities short and with frequent rest breaks during hot weather. Alternatively, these sessions could be conducted in well-ventilated indoor facilities.
Minimise sustained activities in the outdoors during the hottest part of the day (between 11am – 4pm) as the ultraviolet (UV) and heat stress levels are generally high during this period. If activities have to be carried out in the outdoors during this period, additional measures should be put in place, such as appropriate rest periods; water breaks and shades, as well as moderating the intensity of the activities to mitigate the effect of heat.
Voluntary children’s homes and juvenile rehabilitation centres should ensure accessibility of the water point area. The home staff should take additional steps to sprinkle water or create water mist to cool down the hard-court or the venue of recreational or sporting events.

Furthermore, home staff should identify vulnerable groups (such as children under 12 years old, pregnant women, residents who are severely obese, on certain medications, chronic illnesses) for closer monitoring.

In addition, nursing and care staff in children’s and elderly homes should be updated on the various symptoms of heat injuries and be alert to early signs of heat injury. Residents who are more susceptible to heat injury (such as the frail and elderly) should stay in well-ventilated rooms, and if necessary, be brought to an air-conditioned room, where available, to cool down if likelihood of heat injury is high. If symptoms persist or worsen, nursing and care staff should seek medical attention for them.

Advisory for Employers and Employees

Outdoor workers are at an increased risk of developing heat-induced illnesses. Workplaces and employers should implement the necessary precautionary measures and advise their workers on these measures. Measures to be adopted should include:

Ensuring that all workers are properly acclimatised to the hot weather/working conditions;
Scheduling heavy physical work or outdoor work to the cooler parts of the day (early morning or late afternoon) where possible;
Providing shaded areas for work and rest;
Providing cool drinking water at convenient and accessible locations;
Encouraging workers to keep themselves hydrated by drinking sufficient water and to wear loose-fitting and light coloured clothing.
More information is available at the Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines: Managing Heat Stress in the Workplace at: https://www.wshc.sg

Advisory for SAF servicemen

To ensure that servicemen train and operate safely even when the outdoor temperatures are high, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has established a work-rest cycle guideline to correspond with the different Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) readings. It is a composite temperature of the ambient temperature, wind speed and relative humidity, Chief Army Medical Officer Colonel Poon Beng Hoong said.

If a localised WBGT reading is high, shorter training intervals will be adopted as core temperatures of the soldiers are likely to rise at a faster rate under weather conditions with higher WBGT readings, he added.

Col Poon also said there are other programmes such as the heat acclimatisation programme to reduce physiological strain for the SAF soldiers when training or operating in hot environment.

- CNA/ly

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