Edition 1517
16 March 2019
Edition: 1517

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Portugal Braces as Winter Bites

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 10-01-2019 10:28:00 · 0 Comments

Contingency plans have been brought into force in various parts of the country as the first real cold snap of this winter sinks its teeth in.

Portugal Braces as Winter Bites

Portugal’s capital city Lisbon triggered its contingency plan to protect homeless people from the cold at 5pm on Wednesday, after the northern region activated its primary care contingency plan for cold weather on Monday.
Lisbon Social Rights’ councillor, Manuel Grilo said, the council would be opening a pavilion so the homeless “can access hot meals, sleep in decent temperatures and also find warm clothes”.
“Starting Wednesday afternoon, from 5pm, we will declare the Yellow Phase of the contingency plan for homeless people, taking into consideration the drop in temperature – it will fall constantly”, Grilo warned.
The country’s Met Office forecast that minimum temperatures will stay low at least until the weekend.
“The tendency is to keep dropping over the next few days” said, meteorologist Pedro Reis Vieira on the TV programme Bom Dia Portugal, on Wednesday, elaborating: “We will continue with low minimums, frost formation, and in many places with minimums that are below zero”.
In addition to the pavilion in Lisbon, which will stay open around the clock until the ‘Yellow Phase’ contingency plan is deactivated, the Lisbon Metro underground will also be leaving several stations open during the night to provide refuge for the homeless.
According to Grilo, this solution is so “everyone, whether or not they have a problem with getting to the pavilion or a more structured situation, can shelter from the extreme cold weather expected for the coming days”.
Due to the forecast of icy temperatures, coupled with the large number of flu cases and cold-related ailments brought on by the snap, health centres in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region have also temporarily extended their opening hours.
Portugal’s National Medical Emergency Institute INEM this week issued a warning due to the frosty spell.
INEM has advised people to make sure they stay “warm and safe”, inside and outside, and especially overnight.
It urged the most vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly, to take extra care against the chilly weather, which it said, can cause “serious risk or even be lethal to health”.
“Staying at home can be a suitable measure for various situations, but even here there can also be various hazards that people should be aware of”, INEM warned, elaborating: “Many homes will be cold due to lack of energy or because the heating system is not suitable for temperature. When we are forced to use heaters and fireplaces this increases the risk of fire as well as that of carbon monoxide poisoning”.
The DGS National Health Board reiterated INEM’s message with series of recommendations on how to stay warm and healthy during the chill.
Among others, it urges people to opt for hot foods and drinks “such as teas, milk or soups”.
“In addition, the consumption of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (fruits and vegetables), will also help in the fight against the cold because they contribute towards minimising the emergence of infections”.
The DGS advises keeping the body warm: “Wear gloves, a scarf, a hat/cap, and warm shoes and clothing”, and using “several layers of clothing”.
Keeping hydrated with hot liquids and soups is also important, the health board says, as well as being cautious with slippery surfaces to prevent falls and “staying in touch with others, to help them protect themselves”.
The DGS further urged people to take extra care with their choice of indoor heating, to avoid fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.
“When using fireplaces, braziers, wood stoves or gas-fired heating equipment, keep rooms properly ventilated to avoid the accumulation of gases that are harmful to health, preventing accidents due to carbon monoxide that can cause intoxication or death” the DGS advised.
It stressed: “Do not use gas stoves, oven or charcoal stoves to heat the house; avoid sleeping too close to the heat source, and turn off or put out heating systems before bedtime or leaving the house to prevent fires or poisoning”.

 

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Edition 1517
16 March 2019
Edition: 1517

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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