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8 May 2012 02:16 pm

Schools restrict outdoor events as mercury soars ( and How to Protect Your Children from Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion)

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With the sudden onset of summer and ambient temperature reaching as high as 50 degree Celsius, a number of schools in the country have started restricting their pupils from participating in outdoor events as a precaution to safeguard them against heat-related health problems, Gulf Times inquiries found. Exposure to abnormal or prolonged amounts of heat and humidity without relief or adequate fluid intake can cause various types of heat-related illness such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, cramps, sun burn and heat rash. Anyone can get a heat-related health problem or heat illness but those most at risk are infants and young children, the elderly, overweight people, those who work or exercise outdoors in the heat and people who are ill or taking medicines. Heat-related health problems occur when the body temperature gets too high and they could become serious when the body cannot cool itself. Spokespersons of a few schools including the American School of Doha, Doha College, MES Indian and Doha Modern Indian School, who spoke to the Gulf Times yesterday, said they have stopped conducting events outdoors since the temperature began soaring. “Whenever the ambient temperature exceeds 37 degree Celsius, we always declare the day a ‘red flag day’, which means no child is allowed to play out during recess or break time and all their extra-curricula activities are restricted indoors,” ASD Development and External Affairs director Phil Stroup said. He mentioned that if children must do outdoor events, they were only allowed provided it is under a shaded area. “We realise that it is very dangerous and not safe for children to play out when the weather is hot, so we ensure strict compliance during the red flag day but these restrictions have not really impacted the children’s extra-curricula activities as they still do most outdoor events while indoors such as basketballs,” Stroup said. DMIS vice-principal G Mila said the school is no longer making outdoor activities compulsory for student, especially the games periods. “Students are allowed to go out for their games lessons only under shaded areas and with close supervision and monitoring by their games’ masters or mistresses and those students who are not willing to participate, for any concern, are not forced to join in,” she said. To whether the school will be revising its school hours, she said: “We can’t unilaterally decide to reduce the school hours unless the Supreme Education Council directs us to do so and at the moment we have not received any notification from them regarding that.” Spokespersons of other schools also said they have moved most activities including morning assembly indoors as soon as the temperatures begin to peak. Gulf Times