The BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) is taking the lead in helping our community stay cool, hydrated, and healthy as the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region continues to experience a blistering heatwave. As the leading healthcare provider in the Territory, the BVIHSA is not just offering advice, the organization is also offering an action plan to guard against heat stroke in this sizzling weather.

Amidst the recorded high temperature, staying cool is more than a luxury; it’s a necessity for health. The Authority recommends frequent cool showers or baths. Cold packs, wraps, and cool towels can also offer relief from the blistering heat. Dressing appropriately can also aid in staying cool. Light, loose clothing made from natural materials is recommended, along with a hat and sunglasses for anyone venturing outdoors.

Hydration is another key point in the prevention of heat stroke. Regular intake of water is advised, while drinks containing alcohol, caffeine or excessive sugar should be avoided.

BVIHSA is also suggesting a shift in the dietary routine during the heatwave. Instead of large, protein-heavy meals, residents should opt for smaller, more frequent meals to ease digestion and maintain energy levels.

The BVIHSA is also providing guidelines on what to do if anyone feels unwell during the heatwave. Symptoms such as dizziness, intense thirst, or persistent headache should be addressed immediately. The person should be moved to a cool place, given water or fruit juice, and advised to rest. If the symptoms are severe or last for more than an hour, medical attention should be sought.

In terms of managing indoor environments, the Authority suggests aiming for room temperatures below 32 °C during the day and 24 °C at night. This can be achieved by opening windows and shutters during the cooler hours of early morning and night, and closing them during the heat of the day. Unnecessary lights and electronics, which can generate additional heat, should also be turned off.

Beat The Heat for Festival

During the ongoing Emancipation Festivities, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. June Samuel advises everyone to be aware of the heatwave’s potential impacts, especially on vulnerable individuals. She stated that “special care should be given to the elderly, particularly females over 75, those living alone or in care homes, individuals with heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, or certain mental health conditions, and those on multiple medications that may be affected by hot weather.”

The BVIHSA highly recommends avoiding direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm, but still encourages the community to support and enjoy the festival while being cautious.

Meanwhile, Dr. Samuel emphasizes the importance of listening to your body and taking necessary precautions. She said “If feeling faint, weak, excessively thirsty, or experiencing headaches, move to a cooler location, check your body temperature, and hydrate with water or fruit juice. For painful muscle spasms, rest in a cool place and use an electrolyte-packed oral rehydration solution. If symptoms are unusual or persist, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Stay safe and enjoy the festivities responsibly.”

The BVI Health Services Authority wants everyone to have a cool and enjoyable Emancipation Festival; and is admonishing all residents to take the mentioned simple precautions in order to reduce the risk of a heat stroke and stay safe during the heatwave.