High temperatures in northern Colombia, provoking an El Niño-like phenomenon, have alerted the government to release a statement warning citizens of health risks, while the Water Department warns of impending restrictions.
After a spate of spiking temperature and drought-related forest fires in Colombia’s north, authorities issued guidelines for citizens on how to minimize health risks due to the heatwave.
Authorities ask that people take special care of children and the elderly, the hypertensive and the obese, who are the most vulnerable to high temperatures.
Temperatures in the Atlantic have already reached 110º F (44º C), and caused the death of a 57-year-old man who died from hypertension and heart failure.
Deputy director of Barranquilla’s hospital, Carlos Julio Vigna, said symptoms as sweating and dehydration put the affected at risk, which could lead to death.
He urged people to “rehydrate, and engage in minimal activity in direct sun.” He also recommended staying in the shade between 10 am and 4pl, and using sunscreen, hat, umbrellas, and other accessories that minimise exposure to direct sunlight.
Meanwhile, the Vice Minister of Water, Leyla Rojas, warned that due to a drop in rainfall from September to November, it is likely that in December and January Colombia will face a water shortage.
The Water Department advises all Colombians to minimise water usage:
“Turn off the water [when washing your hair], turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and washing the dishes. Only wash clothes once a week, wash your car with a bucket and not a hose and, in general, [keep water usage down],” Rojas said.
Rojas also asked that local emergency committees be activated from today, to develop a plan for eventual water rationing, and to determine for which neighborhoods and time schedules it would apply.