SANTIAGO – The Chilean Meteorology Directorate (DMC) on Wednesday issued an extreme heat alert for the central part of the country, specifically the regions between Valparaiso and Maule, where temperatures could rise to 38 C (100 F) and the heat index to more than 40 C.
The temperatures reach their peak around 5 pm, when the Santiago Metropolitan Region, with its 7 million residents, climbs to between 34 C and 36 C, while in Valparaiso the thermometer moves up to 38 C or higher.
Meanwhile, in the O’Higgins region, south of Santiago, temperatures reached 35 C, and in Maule 36 C is expected and 30 C on the coast.
Given this scenario, experts put out advice on local media to help people endure the dangerously high heat.
The experts urged the public to stay well hydrated, especially children.
“Children, especially those just beginning to walk, have a greater – even fatal – risk of dehydration than adults, and so the key is to prevent it. And since they cannot talk, it is suggested that their liquid intake be increased,” advised Patricia Fernandez, the director of the School of Health Sciences at the University of the Pacific.
Along those lines, experts also suggested avoiding alcoholic beverages, since they foster dehydration, and eating fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables.
They also recommended wearing light and light-colored clothing and using a cap or hat if one is going out in the middle of the day, especially from noon until about 6 pm.
To avoid the risks of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which can cause sunburn, experts recommended using sunblock.
Animals are not exempt from the dangers posed by heat. Veterinarian Patricio Moreno, with Drag Pharma Laboratory, advised pet owners not to take them outside for walks around midday, prevent them from engaging in intense physical activity, not let them walk on hot pavement and not to leave them cooped up in small spaces, like vehicles.
The Buin Zoo, located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the capital, implemented a number of measures to keep its animals cool, including giving frozen fish or other very cold food to them.
In many of Santiago’s public swimming pools, dozens of children splashed in the water to avoid the heat.
Meanwhile, the high temperatures also pose the perfect scenario for forest fires, as demonstrated by the six red alerts issued and the 80 incidents registered nationwide on Tuesday, according to National Forestry Corporation figures.