The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority announced Friday it would reimplement the daily 30-minute “heat stroke break” policy to protect the health of its traffic enforcers and other personnel working outdoor during the summer season.
Effective April 1, MMDA traffic enforcers and street sweepers will be allowed to leave their posts in shifts and take a 30-minute break to rest.
MMDA chairman Romando Artes has signed a memorandum circular re-implementing the “heat stroke break” policy to protect field personnel from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and heat cramps due to severe heat wave.
The highest heat index so far this year had been recorded last March 17 and March 25 at 5 p.m. in Dagupan, Pangasinan, both at 53 degrees Celsius.
Central Luzon State University Muñoz in Nueva Ecija reported the second highest heat index at 49 degrees Celsius, also last March 17.
Filipinos can again expect hot days which can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the most severe form of heat illness when the body overheats and cannot cool down, according to the Department of Health.
Some tips from the Department of Health on how to prevent this heat-related illness:
Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors. If possible, do not stay under the sun from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you have to stay outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved clothing. Apply sunscreen to protect your skin.
Drink plenty of water. Avoid tea, coffee, soda and alcohol.
“The heat stroke break shall be done alternately by those who are assigned in a particular area to maintain visibility of traffic enforcers and street sweepers and to ensure field operations are not hampered,” said Artes.
Field personnel may also avail themselves of additional 15-minute break time in case the heat index or the “human discomfort index” in Metro Manila reaches 40 degrees Celsius and above.
As defined by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), heat index gives the “apparent” temperature, or what humans perceive or feel as the temperature affecting their body.
The policy shall take effect until May 31, 2022.
Health experts said symptoms of the heat stroke or thermal distress included dizziness, uncommon thirst, breathing difficulties, headaches, feverishness and even hypertension.
In 2013, six South African traffic enforcers died in KwaZulu-Natal Traffic Department, South Africa due to dehydration and consequent heat stroke.
In South Africa, summer temperatures are above 30 degrees Celsius, similar to the temperature in Metro Manila.