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NGOs issue heatstroke warnings

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A man walks across a field in the sun with his children in Chbar Mon town of Kampong Speu province on April 2. Heng Chivoan

NGOs issue heatstroke warnings

Plan International Cambodia (PIC) has advised all parents and caregivers to pay close attention to the health of children during the current hot weather conditions.

In a leaflet, the organisation said the hot weather could lead to a slow or racing pulse rate, weakness, excessive sweating, cold dry skin, or diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting. There may also be additional symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, abdominal pain or a temperature above 39.5 degrees Celsius.

To prevent these, PIC advised all parents and guardians to follow their guidelines, or call the Ministry of Health’s 115 hotline for more advice.

“If a child displays any of these symptoms, they should be bathed in cool water or wiped with a clean cloth soaked in cool water. They should also be made to drink water slowly. If the symptoms grow more severe, the child should be taken to a medical centre,” said the leaflet.

“Parents should encourage children to stay in the shade, rather than using electric fans, and they should wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. They should shower regularly. These rules apply even more so to children aged under 5, the elderly, pregnant women and the chronically ill,” it added.

Hang Hybunna, the PIC project programme manager, told The Post that the instructions had been issued because this April is unseasonably hot.

He warned that the heat could have serious adverse effects on people if they failed to heed the instructions.

“If children are not cared for, they will develop medical problems. We have seen an increase in the number of children suffering from respiratory problems because they are dehydrated. If they used to drink one glass of water in the morning, they should now be drinking at least two,” he said.

Hybunna said PIC was concerned that children’s studies could be affected.

“Our leaflets offer simple ways for parents and guardians to keep their children cool, and hydrated. If parents are in doubt about the severity of their child’s symptoms, they should seek medical assistance,” he said.

UNICEF also called on parents to be mindful of avoiding heatstroke. In a recent social media campaign, the UN body said children sometimes do not realise that they are overheating, or that they need to seek protection from the sun.

“Heatstroke is potentially deadly, and can occur in a short amount of time, but is entirely avoidable,” said one of the posts. Children should wear light, loose-fitting clothing and a hat. They should always be near a source of drinking water, and be reminded to drink,” it said.

“In addition, children should never be left in a car parked in the sunshine,” it added.

UNICEF said some common signs of heatstroke in children are high temperature, headache or dizziness.

“If children display symptoms of heatstroke, parents should bring them to hospital. In the meantime, they should be kept in the shade or a cool room, and bathed with a cool, wet cloth. Do not attempt to use ice to cool a child down,” it said.


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