The Chief Forecaster at the Ghana Meteorological Agency, Kafui Quarshiegah, has said that the extreme temperatures being experienced in the country lately is due to heat waves caused by direct sunshine.
According to him, the phenomenon is due to the sun crossing the equator and shining straight unto the surface of the earth and could last till May.
“Normally around this time of the year, the sun [crosses] the equator and is perpendicular to the earth’s surface, so, if you’re on the earth’s surface, the sun is just directly on your head. We are just hoping that by May 10 to 20, we will start seeing some rains coming in, so, where the clouds will start building up, we will have a shade of the sun, and, therefore, temperatures will go down,” he told Joy FM on Monday April 25.
According to him, the country is supposed to receive rainfall, but that has stalled, compounding the heat problem.
“Unfortunately for us around April, we should have the clouds, which will be preventing some of the heat from the sun, but this year, we are not having the clouds as it should be. So, we are having a deficit in the rainfall, which is causing the clouds to disappear and the sun is still heating up, which is causing the heat wave,” he added.
Mr Quarshigah cautioned individuals from spending prolonged time under the rays of the sun and consume a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Some adverse health conditions of heat wave include:
-Heat syncope (fainting) and heat rush
Certain individuals, such as the elderly, infants and young children, the obese, outdoor workers, and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for developing heat-related illnesses.
Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness vary based on the condition, but may include an elevated body temperature,
headache,nausea,weakness,dizziness,fainting,muscle cramps,seizures,confusion,coma etc.
How to handle heat wave
The following steps can help you keep cool during a heat wave even if you have an air-conditioned home or office:
1. Take advantage of the cooling power of water. Fill buckets or basins and soak your feet. Take cool showers or baths, and consider using a spray bottle filled with cold water for refreshing spritzes throughout the day.
2. Wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
3.Eliminate extra sources of heat. Incandescent light bulbs can generate unnecessary heat as can computers or appliances left running. Eat fresh foods that do not require you to use the oven or stove to prepare.
4.Remember to maintain an adequate level of hydration, which means you’ll need to consume more water than you usually do when it’s hot. If you’re sweating profusely, you will also need to replace electrolytes by eating a small amount of food with your water or by drinking specially formulated electrolyte replacement drinks. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration; you should drink sufficient amounts of fluids before you feel thirsty in order to prevent dehydration.
5.Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, as both of these substances, can act as diuretics and promote dehydration.
6.Try to visit public buildings with air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day if the heat becomes unbearable. Libraries, shopping malls, and movie theatres can all be good places to cool down.
7.Don’t eat large, protein-rich meals that can increase metabolic heat and warm the body.
8.Be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and true heat emergencies (heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke).