Meteorologists urge Bahamians, visitors to stay indoors as temperatures peak

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As temperatures peak at 97 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity levels days into the summer, authorities have urged residents and visitors to stay indoors as much as possible, predicting that temperatures could rise several degrees over the next few weeks.

The Department of Meteorology issued several advisories concerning dehydration and heatstroke this week.

In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, Chief Meteorologist Basil Dean told Eyewitness News Online that the heat index was approximately 107 degrees, factoring relative humidity and temperature, “which is what the body is feeling”.

“I am not quite sure whether we are headed for a record high, but what I can safely say is we are certainly above average for the month of June,” he said.

“We have been clocking 92 degrees on a daily base.

“The average for this time of the year is close to 88 or 89 degrees.

“With that said, we are certainly above average and it seems it is going to remain that way for the rest of the summer and summer is only four days in. If this is any indication — almost three degrees above normal — we will certainly have to brace ourselves for a very, very hot summer.

Dean recommended light colored clothing, broad-brimmed hats and “if you don’t have to be outdoors, simply remain indoors as much as you can or in shaded areas”, as he pointed out that radiation from sunlight is linked to cancer.

Over in Palm Beach, Florida, the U.S. National Weather Service issued a heat advisory until 7 p.m. yesterday for the coastal Palm Beach County.

A heat advisory is issued when the heat index is expected to reach 105 to 109 degrees east of the Blue Ridge or 100 to 104 degrees west of the Blue Ridge within 12 to 24 hours.

Bearing the heat

Omar Grant, a Seabreeze Lane resident, who spent much of the yesterday afternoon sitting in his car with the air conditioning on, said he planned to stay home and relax, but the power outage and unbearable heat, forced him out of the house.

Prolonged load shedding has plagued New Providence since last Wednesday.

“All of us are trying to avoid the heat because current is off everywhere,” he told Eyewitness News Online.

“It is an epidemic and it’s spreading like the plague.

“Everyone has to get out. It feels hotter than hot. The sun is starting to set now so it’s starting to cool down, but even then, I doubt the power will be on when I get home.”

Explaining that he picked up two friends, who also experienced power outages in Seabreeze and Yamacraw, Grant said, I don’t know how people are surviving right now.”

Scores of residents sat outside their homes or in neighboring parks yesterday, bearing the heat with little wind.

Those who spoke to Eyewitness News Online expressed that the conditions outside were far better than inside their homes.

Young and elderly vulnerable

The primary cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, according to the World Health Organization.

 Melanoma of the skin is the 19thmost commonly occurring cancer in men and women, with nearly 300,000 new cases worldwide in 2018, while non-melanoma cases, which is more common, accounted for one million cases last year.

When contacted, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said fari too many Bahamians believe they are immune to the sun.

He said, “The issue of heat — heat prostration, heat stroke — is something that we believe we are immune. ‘We live in the tropics; were used to this and I got this’. Wrong.

“The challenge is whether people are hydrating properly or dressing properly: wearing the appropriate clothing to radiate heat as opposed to absorb. Sometimes you see people doing all of the wrong things.”

Sands said the combination of heat, and power outages “makes this a particularly challenging time right now.

“Depending on how long this heat spell lasts we have to be very careful about heatstroke, heat prostrations for some of our people, particularly those vulnerable: the young and the old,” the minister said.

“The best advice is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate to try and get to as cool as place as possible, and if it means you have to go in the water, go in the water with appropriate skin protection.

According to the data published by the World Health Organization, 482 people — 249 men and 233 women — died of cancer in The Bahamas last year.

The leading cancers were prostate cancer, which accounted for 80 deaths, and breast cancer, with 77 deaths.

It was unclear how many deaths were caused by skin cancer.

Sands said statistics on incidents of skin cancer in The Bahamas was limited due to inconsistent collection of the data, and many patients who do not want their information shared.

It is now mandatory for patients to report to the cancer registry, which was empowered and staffed in May.

“Certainly, in our fair skin patients we see quite a few Squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma cancers,” Sands told Eyewitness News Online.