Sunday, September 20, 2020

‘Take heed of weather forecasts’

The weatherman, Radithupa Radithupa is a national icon who commands a large following nationwide, as the whole nation is religiously glued to their screens after the evening news–on prime time every day–to listen to his weather forecast.

This is especially so in the present days of climate change, characterised by extreme weather like floods, hailstorms and heat waves. Radithupa is a man who is often celebrated and ridiculed in the same measure. If his weather prediction doesn’t come true, Radithupa immediately becomes the villain who is always way off the mark. If the forecast is accurate, he is the messiah without whom we would all perish because of the harsh weather.

Radithupa was on the news just last week warning Batswana about an imminent heat wave that would set record temperatures of over 40┬░C. As precautions, he warned citizens to drink more water, avoid prolonged stays under the sun and protect themselves by wearing wide-brimmed hats or using umbrellas. Radithupa’s forecast proved true, and the heat wave ended up claiming the lives of a few Batswana. While it is generally appreciated that weather patterns are erratic because of climate change, there is a growing concern about Batswana’s continued disregard of the Meteorological Services’ weather forecasts. Such a concern was raised by MRI Botswana Health Services Manager, Dr Sikele, who urged Batswana to stop taking weather forecasts for granted.

                                                                                                                                                       “When there is an alert of bad weather we must all take a moment to prepare ourselves accordingly. If there is a warning of a hailstorm or heat wave, don’t walk to work like you normally do…make arrangements for transportation. If you work for a construction company, make arrangements to work early morning before the heat wave intensifies. These are just a few simple adjustments that people can make to prepare for bad weather,” she said.

The heat wave poses a greater risk to older citizens aged 65 years and beyond because they are usually afflicted by hyper tension, sugar diabetes and heart disease.                                                                                                 Infants are also part of the high risk group as they cannot voice out their discomfort, for example when they are thirsty. Therefore the responsibility lies on caregivers to ensure that these high risk groups are well taken care of in the event of harsh weather. Construction workers, vendors and others who work outdoors are also at high risk of being adversely affected by bad weather, as well as the bed ridden. Dr Sikele explained that the body automatically cools itself off by releasing sweat if body temperatures exceed 37┬░C. Sweat leaves moisture on the skin, but the body temperature normally picks up again once the moisture dries off.                                                                                                                        “Therefore wearing tight clothes is not advisable as they will not allow sweat to escape. Rather wear sleeveless clothes,” said Dr Sikele.

However, wearing sleeveless clothes in the heat is risky as direct skin contact with the sun’s rays may cause burns and skin diseases such as cancer. Dr Sikele also urged Batswana to immediately contact medical personnel if they encounter signs or symptoms of heart stroke; which include headache, nausea and muscle cramps.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.