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Summer in the Philippines: Heat index, explained

April 25, 2019 | Created by: Andreas Klippe

On March 23, 2019, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) officially declared the start of the summer season in the country, along with a warning of hotter and warmer days ahead.

Some of us have been eagerly waiting for summer to arrive, to the extent of working out on that ‘beach-ready body’ so we could confidently flaunt them this year. Because why not? Summer is the time to relax, have fun and enjoy the beach and the outdoors.

But it is also important to take note that summer is the time when the heat index is at its highest.

The summer heat is on so it is important to hydrate by drinking plenty of water.
The summer heat is on so it is important to hydrate by drinking plenty of water.

On April 9, 2019, the heat index in the city of Dagupan, Pangasinan reached 51.7 degrees Celsius, making it the highest recorded heat index in the country so far this year.

According to PAG-ASA, the city’s temperature went above the dangerous heat index level of 41 degrees Celsius and it still might worsen in the days to come due to El Niño.

What is “Heat Index”?

The state weather bureau defines Heat Index as,

Human discomfort index that gives the “apparent” temperature or what human perceive or feel as the temperature affecting their body. High air temperatures and high relative humidity will give high apparent temperatures or indices. Full exposure to sunshine can increase the heat index by 8°C.

Put simply, heat index is the actual temperature felt by people when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.

Expect hotter days ahead, especially in the month of May.
Expect hotter days ahead, especially in the month of May.

On April 10 alone, thirteen locations in the Philippines reported heat indices considered to fall under the “dangerous” category of PAG-ASA’s heat index measurement board.

Residents in the areas that are in the “danger” zone are more likely to be exposed to experience cramps, heat exhaustion and other heat-related health risks such as heat stroke.

Effects of Heat Index in our bodies

PAG-ASA provided a chart indicating the effects of heat index in our bodies:
Source: Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA)
Source: Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA)

According to the Manila Bulletin, the heat index across the country will definitely go above 41 degrees Celsius many times this summer season, which is why the Department of Health (DOH) has issued advisories warning the public of heat stroke.

How to protect oneself from severe heat

Earlier, DOH issued an advisory reminding the public to take precautionary measures against heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other diseases associated with the summer heat.

It is really important to hydrate regularly and as often as possible to counter the effects of heat stress.

If possible, stay indoors. Try to avoid staying under the scorching heat of the sun from 10 AM to 3 PM as the heat is ‘at its peak’ during those hours. It also helps to wear lightweight and light colored clothing to reflect the sun’s energy.

We all know that the Filipinos are food-loving people, however, it is advised to avoid eating foods high in protein like meat and poultry because it increases metabolic heat in a process called “thermogenesis”. Better stick to foods with less carbohydrates like fruits and salad.

And again, always hydrate. But slow down on coffee, tea and soda. Drink water instead!
“Drink, drink, drink!”.

This summer, it’s not necessary that we stay totally indoors and avoid the sun. Let us enjoy the warmth and joy of the season without putting our health at risks.