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Hot Health Tips During Typhoons Or Heavy Rains

Typhoons and heavy rains may cause flooding which, in turn, can potentially increase the transmission of communicable diseases. These include water-borne diseases (e.g., typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, and hepatitis A); and vector-borne diseases (e.g., malaria, dengue). Climate change affects the increase in the intensity of typhoons.


  • Make sure drinking water is from a safe source.
  • When in doubt, boil water for 2 minutes or longer, or chlorinate drinking water to make it safe.


  • Food should be well-cooked.
  • Leftovers should be covered and kept away from household pests.
  • Food waste should be disposed of properly.


  • Keep yourself dry and warm.


  • Consult a doctor at once if you, or any household member, have any sign or symptom of infection. This will help prevent the spread of infection in the evacuation area.
  • Common infections or diseases that may spread in an evacuation area include coughs and colds; acute gastroenteritis; skin and eye infections; measles; dengue; leptospirosis; and hepatitis A.
  • Do not allow children to wade in floodwaters to avoid diseases, such as leptospirosis.
  • Dispose all waste properly.
  • Maintain personal hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after eating and using the toilet.
  • Put safety first. Stay away from hanging wires and unstable structures.


Typhoons (tropical cyclones), also known as bagyo, hit the country around 19 times in a typical year. Typhoons bring strong winds and heavy rains resulting in flooding, great damage to crops, houses and buildings, and death due to accidents. Climate change affects the increase in the intensity of typhoons.

Coping with Typhoons Preparations for Typhoon

  • Tune into the radio or TV, or log on to the Internet, for regular updates on the weather.
  • Have an emergency kit ready. Fill a watertight box/container with canned goods, soda crackers, bottled water, and other ready-to-eat, non-perishable food items. Include a flashlight with extra batteries, transmitter radio with battery, mobile phone, blanket, and clothing.

During Strong Winds and Heavy Rains

  • Watch out for falling debris (roof tiles, signs, GI sheets, tree branches, etc.)
  • When inside the house or building, do not stay near the windows and watch out for broken glass.
  • Unplug all electrical appliances.
  • Do not get close to the riverbank or seashore.

During Floods

  • Evacuate to a higher ground.
  • Secure children on a higher ground or on a flotation device.
  • Wear a protective head gear or helmet while evacuating.
  • Use a rope to secure yourself.
  • Carry the elderly or sick on your back.
  • Watch out for open manholes or side ditches. Use a stick to check the safety around your feet when walking on flooded areas.
  • Call for Help Emergency: 911

Source: Department of Health







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Safety measures to observe before, during and after Storm Surge

The Philippines, an island surrounded by bodies of water, is vulnerable to storm surges. Filipinos often hear in warnings in weather reports of a possible storm surge in coastal areas during typhoons. The populous Metro Manila experienced a storm surge caused by Typhoon Pedring in September 2011 when the sea walls of Manila Bay were destroyed and the US Embassy and Sofitel Philippine Plaza were submerged in floodwaters.

A storm surge causes severe flooding, that was all we knew until the devastation of Tacloban City by Super Typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013. The images and the testimonials that we saw and heard in media became a grim realization that Filipinos must not only know but try to understand what a storm surge is.

Some storm surge survivors in Tacloban City claimed that if the warnings were that of a tsunami, they would have known what to expect and do. ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol anchor, Ted Failon, who had first- hand experience in ground-zero on the day of the devastation, commented there was no direct translation of storm surge in Filipino. He added that the nearest word to describe it is “daluyong” or “wave” or even “tidal wave.” Meanwhile, Dr. Armando Lee, a health emergency management staff from the Department of Health-National Capital Region suggested in a Facebook post to call a storm surge as “taclob,” a pun for “taklob” which means “to cover” and also “Tacloban,” the worst hit city.

Until such time that someone can come with the right and acceptable Filipino word for storm surge, it is important to define it first. A storm surge is not a tsunami or a tidal wave. A tsunami is a giant wave caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea or landslides into the sea, while a tidal wave is a gigantic wave caused by the force of the moon and sun (astronomical tide). A storm surge is the rising of the sea level associated with the passing of a tropical storm or typhoon. This is due to the push of strong winds on the water surface, the piling up of big waves, pressure setup and astronomical tide moving towards the shore. In other words, the stronger the winds or the larger the storm the higher the surge.

The DOH released the following advisory which is based on the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) information on what to do before, during and after a storm surge.

Planning for a storm surge and evacuation could save lives. Be prepared. Know the hazards that may affect you, your family, and your home. Make plans for where you’ll go if told to evacuate. Have a disaster supply kit within reach. Stay tuned to local radio and television stations, and listen for advisories or specific instructions from your local officials.

Before A Storm Surge

  • Know if your area is at risk
  • Know the types of hazards that could affect your home and family
  • Assess your risks and identify ways to make your home and property more secure. Make a disaster evacuation plan.
  • If you live close to the floodplain, consider flood insurance.
  • Locate the safest areas in your home, and decide on an escape route should you need to evacuate.

During A Storm Surge

  • Monitor radio and television for the latest news and advisories.
  • If local officials ask you to evacuate, do so IMMEDIATELY!
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around, and go another way.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, DO NOT attempt to cross flowing water.
  • After the Flood

Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.

  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including gloves and boots. Make sure your food and water are safe.
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula. (Remember that breastfeeding is a lifeline and a shield that protects infants in emergencies and disasters. – Ed)


This article was originally published in HealthBeat Issue No. 79 2013 of the Department of Health. Minor edits applied.


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What is Heat Stroke and how to prevent it

Most severe form of heat illness when the body overheats and can’t cool down. The body cannot take off the excessive heat from the body by sweating because of dehydration and/or humid environment.


  • the risk of heat stroke goes way up in hot and humid weather
  • vigorous exercise in hot weather
  • if you’re dehydrated
  • if you’ve had too much direct exposure to the sun


May start with the following signs of heat exhaustion:

  • warm, flushed skin
  • faintness
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • headache

May progress to an emergency condition of heat stroke:

  • very high fever of 41 C
  • rapid heartbeat
  • convulsion
  • delirium
  • unconscious Prevention
  • Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid tea, coffee, soda and alcohol.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved clothing when outdoors.
  • Schedule heavy-duty activities for the beginning or end of the day, when it’s cooler.


Emergency measures:

  • Move the person to a shady spot or indoors and have them lie down with their legs elevated. If they’re conscious, have them sip cool water.
  • Remove clothing, apply cool water to the skin and fan them.
  • Apply ice packs to the armpits, wrists, ankles and groin.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency!

Bring the patient immediately to the hospital after instituting emergency measures.

Source: Department of Health

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How to live safe and healthy during the typhoon season

Here’s how!

• Make sure drinking water is from a safe source.
• When in doubt, do not drink. Boil it for 3 minutes or chlorinate drinking water to make it safe.

• Food should be well-cooked.
• Left-overs should be covered and kept away from household pests.
• Food waste should be disposed properly.

-Keep yourself dry and warm.

• Consult a doctor at once if you, or any member of your household, have any sign or symptom to prevent the spread of infection in the evacuation area.
• Common infections or diseases that may spread in an evacuation area include: coughs and colds, acute gastroenteritis, skin and eye infections, measles, dengue, leptospirosis, hepatitis A.
• Do not allow children wade in floodwaters to avoid diseases such as leptospirosis.
• Dispose all waste properly.
• Maintain personal hygiene, always wash your hands before and after eating and using the toilet.
• Put safety first. Avoid hanging wires and unstable structures.

Source: Department of Health

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How to protect yourself from deadly health hazards of La Niña

La Niña is a weather phenomena characterized by unusually cold ocean temperature in the Equatorial Pacific which causes increased numbers of tropical storms in the Pacific Ocean.

Health Effects

  • Disease related to contaminated water due to flooding, such as acute gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, cholera and hepatitis A.
  • Disease related to wading in floodwaters contaminated with urine of infected animals, such as leptospirosis.
  • Disease brought by mosquitoes, such as dengue and malaria.
  • Accidents and injuries such as contusions, lacerations, fractures, electrocution.


  • Boil your drinking water (Upon reaching boiling point, extend boiling for two or more minutes) or Do water chlorination
  • Wash hands before preparing food and after using the toilet.
  • Avoid wading in floodwater. If you must, wear rubber boots.
  • Clean-up all possible mosquito breeding sites, such as vases, empty coconut shells, old tires and tin cans.

What to Do In Case of Flood

  • Stay inside a house or building during heavy rains.
  • Avoid wading and taking baths in floodwaters.
  • When a flood advisory is issued, residents in low lying areas should seek for higher grounds.
  • Avoid crossing low-lying areas and bridges during evacuation.

Source: Department of Health

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Health & Safety Tips during Haze

HAZE due to forest fire can cause air pollution which can bring about increased risks for Respiratory Tract Infections and Cardiac Ailments.

What to do?

Elderly, children and those with respiratory (Asthma ,COPD) and cardiovascular diseases:

  • Stay indoors with good ventilation
  • Wear appropriate dust masks when going outside the house.
  • Refrain from physical activities (exercise, etc) in heavily polluted areas.

Motorists should exercise extreme caution whenever on the road to prevent accidents.

  • Use headlights/foglights.
  • Follow the required minimum speed level and extreme caution in low, visibility driving.
  • Ensure that vehicle is in good running condition.

Stay away from low-lying areas where smoke and suspended particles may settle.

Consult a doctor if there is:

  • difficulty in breathing
  • cough
  • chest pain
  • increased tearing of the eyes
  • nose or throat irritation

Tune in to your radio or television for more health advisories.

Source: Department of Health

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Your Health and Safety when El Niño strikes

The El Niño phenomenon is characterized by extreme climatic conditions; extreme temperature rise with a little rainfall, and at the opposite extreme, there is unusually heavy rainfall.

Health Effects

  • Diseases related to water scarcity or shortage such as diarrhea and skin diseases
  • Red Tide Blooms : Paralytic shellfish poisoning
  • Disorders associated with high temperatures: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, exertional heat injury and heat stroke

What to do?

  • Conserve water and use it wisely.
  • Protect water sources from contamination.
  • Drink more fluids.
  • Listen to the updates on shellfish ban.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity.

Be prepared for the coming of El Niño phenomenon!

Source: Department of Health

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Health Alert for the Holiday Season

Here are some health tips for the Christmas Season:

  1. Plan Christmas activities for yourself and your family to prevent tension and stress.
  2. Take care of yourself and your family against changes in temperature. Children and adults may become susceptible to cough, colds and fever. If your cough, colds and fever is more than five days, consult your nearest health station.
  3. Prepare a well-balanced Noche Buena and Media Noche meals. Make sure that vegetable and fruits are on the table together with your traditional ham and queso de bola.
  4. Be kind to your heart. Eat a moderate amount of nutritious foods to sustain your daily activities.
  5. Drink plenty of liquids. Drink plenty of water and fruit juices to facilitate excretion.
  6. Have enough sleep. Give yourself enough sleep so that the mind and body can rest.
  7. Avoid crowded areas because bacteria that cause diseases multiply and spread easily. Airy and well- ventilated areas are essential to healthy living.
  8. Use environment-friendly Christmas decors that cost less and are not fire hazards. Save decors for next year and store them in a safe place.
  9. Buy toys with no pointed or sharp edges; nor too small toys that can cause choking.
  10. Do not use fireworks and firecrackers during the Holidays. Make some noise even without fireworks and firecrackers. Stay alive and whole for the coming year.

Source: Department of Health

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Diseases/Conditions to watch out during Summer Time

March to May is vacation time and fiesta season in the country. To avoid food poisoning, diarrhea, heat associated ailments and recreation-associated injuries, the public is advised to take the following precautions.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

  • Typhoid
  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • Food Poisoning


  • Diarrheas
  • Sore Eyes
  • Measles (Tigdas)
  • Mosquito-borne Diseases
  • Dengue
  • Malaria

Other Conditions

  • Sunburn
  • Prickly Heat

Health Tips

Food and drinks

Cook food properly.

  • Preferably, foods must be eaten immediately after cooking (while still hot).
  • Left-over food should be refrigerated and reheated before being eaten.
  • Food handlers should wash their hands before and after food preparation.
  • If sick, you should avoid preparing food for others.
  • Avoid drinking water and iced beverages of doubtful quality.
  • If water quality is doubtful, boil your drinking water for at least 2 minutes.
  • Peel and wash fruits / vegetables before eating.
  • Wash hands before and after eating.

At the beach

  • Do not allow children to swim without the company of an adult who can swim and is not drunk.
  • Avoid staying under the sun with scanty clothes for more than 3 hours as this predisposes to sunburn, heat exhaustion and the worst, heat stroke.
  • Should you want a tan, drink plenty of fluids so as not to dehydrate yourself.

While on the road

  • Check your vehicle very well before going on a trip.
  • Bring your repair kit with you.
  • When drunk, never attempt to drive.

Source: Department of Health

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Uterine Cervix Cancer

The cervix is part of the female reproductive system located at the junction of the vagina and the uterus (womb). It is often called the neck of the womb.

In the Philippines, Cervical Cancer is the 2nd leading cancer site among women. An estimated 7,277 new cases of, and 3,807 deaths due to, cervical cancer are expected to occur every year.

Generally, all women who have had sexual intercourse are at risk of cervix cancer. However, rare types of cervical cancer can occur even in women who never had any sexual intercourse in their life.


In recent studies, there had been overwhelming evidence that an infectious agent particularly human papiloma virus (HPV) that is transmitted through sexual intercourse causes cancer of the cervix.

The following had been established as possible causes of cervix cancer:

  • have had multiple sexual partners
  • have had sexual partners (regular or casual) who themselves had several sexual partners
  • have had sexual partner who is infected with human papilloma virus
  • had first sexual intercourse at a very early age, possibly 15 or 16 years old


Generally, cervix cancer do not have symptoms. Often, the disease is detected during its advance stage. However, the following impressions often lead to cervix cancer:

  • Unusual bleeding from the vagina at any time
  • Unpleasant vaginal discharge

Early Detection

Cervical cancer when detected early is curable. At present, the most reliable and practical way to diagnose early cervical cancer is through Pap smear.

A woman’s first Pap smear should be done 3 years after the first vaginal intercourse. After that, it should be done every year for 3 years. If the Pap smear test is negative for the consecutive 3 years, then it can be done every two or three years. In unmarried women who never had sexual activity in their life, Pap smear should be done at age 35.


Since there is almost universal acceptance that cervical cancer is primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse, the following preventive measures should be followed:

  • a one-partner sexual relationship between partners should be observed
  • a delay on the first sexual intercourse
  • use of barrier contraceptives like condoms during sexual intercourse

Source: Department of Health

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