Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I guess I am getting used to it, but summer seems to have started later here this year. There were still comfortable days in late April--comfortable being anything with highs under 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).

Now early June, the summer is definitely here with highs in at least the mid-forties (above 110 Farenheit), mixed with a good amount of humidity. The government is little-by-little taking steps to address the hardships of outdoor workers. What started a few years ago as a 1.5 month outdoor work ban between noon and 3 pm is now about 3.5 month-- as of 1 June this year.

A Pinoy Abroad article elaborates (Pinoy being the new most visible face of the expatriate community here):
Citing previous reports, Gulf News said that since the rule was implemented, cases of heat exhaustion in Dubai have dropped to 1,500 in 2005 from 5,000 cases a month in 2004. In 2007, there where only 82 reported cases of heat exhaustion and two deaths, the report said.

One of the most common ailments during the very hot weather is heat stroke or hyperthermia. Some symptoms of heat stroke are rapid pulse, difficulty in breathing, hallucinations, disorientation, and seizure. Victims of heat stroke must immediately receive treatment to prevent organ failure that could lead to death.

It is great that additional measures are being taken to protect these workers, but pretty shocking at the risks they still face. I imagine one can be easily lulled into thinking he has a high tolerance before suddenly being faced by a crises.

Enveloping Warmth

I consider myself one of those high tolerance believers. I don't face much risk, however, since I don't work outside or go for outdoor exercise. I just do the 5-minute walk from my parked car to the office, all the while thinking it may be hot, but I can surely take it.

I much prefer having too much heat to too much cold. Basking in the warmth or baking heat, as it were, feels kind of protective, like a warm blanket. I'll take that any day over shivering in a stinging, biting cold.

Sure, those warm and fuzzy feelings only come when the interval in the heat is brief. I have travelled a bit in India and know of people there who resort to sleeping outdoors at night, as the stifling heat can make it impossible to sleep inside. Their homes, built from concrete, absorb so much heat during the day that they continue to bake like ovens during the night. The only solution is to sleep on the porch or pavement in front of the house, while battling the mosquitos.

In the UAE everyone has air-conditioning, even the laborers. However, there are still the problems of electricity being cut, a current regular issue in Sharjah. It also happens often for the many bachelors living as unregistered tenants in over-crowded, shared accommodations, whose illegal landlords miss out on utility payments or air-conditioner maintenance.

That said, except for those outdoor workers, most of us happily hibernate indoors during the summer months.

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