No let-up from 37-degree days for over a week and air pollution too

Updated 2017-07-14 09:21:48 Shanghai Daily

Temperatures are forecast to hover around 37 degrees Celsius for the next 10 days in Shanghai.

Shanghai Meteorological Bureau released this year's first orange alert, the second of the three-layer system, for a heatwave on Wednesday. Observatory stations in downtown Xujiahui recorded a high of 38 degrees.

The bureau kept the city on orange alert yesterday, when the temperature reading was 37.9 degrees.

Today, the mercury will fall slightly to 36 degrees. Thunderstorms may arrive this afternoon.

Saturday and Sunday are forecast as sunny to cloudy, with the high at around 35 degrees. Next week, the city will be back on 37-degree days again.

Besides taking precautions with the heat, residents are also warned to be braced for air pollution.

Due to a long-time exposure to scorching sunshine, volatile organic compounds are likely to undergo photochemical reactions and cause ozone air pollution, according to environmental protection officials.

The city reported light ozone air pollution yesterday afternoon. And this will continue today and tomorrow.

The scorching weather is not curbing visitors' enthusiasm for seeing the sights, however.

Shanghai Museum of Natural History has taken steps to make its visitors feel refreshed while they queue to get in, placing about 30 boxes of ice near the entrance, as well as providing umbrellas to shelter from the sunshine. Li Long, a security officer at the museum, said the ice is renewed once a day.

Many visitors brought their own drinks. Robert Angeles, an American student from Indiana University, who is now studying at East China Normal University, said the weather "is not what I'm used to, but I'm tolerant of different weathers." As a precaution, he carries drinking water in his backpack.

Downtown Jing'an District has opened 318 chill-out spots, providing popular shelters for seniors, many of whom used to spend the entire day in air-conditioned supermarkets or shopping malls to stay cool.

The chill-out spots are transformed from community-based elder care centers or activity venues.

More than 10 seniors, aged 80 on average, gathered at such a spot in the Siming Neighborhood yesterday afternoon to escape the scorching sunshine and to enjoy a chat with each other. "Almost everyone either lives alone or lives without their children. It's risky to leave seniors unattended in such unsettled weather conditions," said the neighborhood's Party secretary Huang Yuling.

"Also, many of them believe it's too expensive to use air conditioners, and they just switch on the fan. But it doesn't work when it's sizzling outside. And in case of heatstroke, if they faint at home, no one will know."

Huang, along with a volunteer Rong Yeli, 61, toured the area to persuade senior residents to come out of their homes.

One of them is Zhang Yuqin, 84, who lives alone, and next door to Huang. Though her son comes to see her from time to time, she is lonely. Huang saw her sleeping in the corridor on one occasion and knew she never used an air conditioner at home. Now, Zhang has the chill-out spot to come to and it is a place where she can befriend other seniors.

"Here, they can forget their worries. I will buy drinks and watermelons for them, and Huang will pay. They really feel happy to be with others," said Rong.

To cope with the heat, many residents turn to traditional Chinese medicine.

The 300-year-old Leiyunshang pharmacy was crowded with patients yesterday afternoon. Many of them suffered zhi xia, a term used in TCM to indicate people in poor health who are feeling unwell because of the scorching weather. Symptoms include headaches, loss of appetite and fever.

"The elderly and the young are vulnerable to zhi xia," said Dr Wen Xiuyi. "Also, many people have respiratory infections in summer." Her advice is to make drinks and soups using heat-dispelling herbs and food such as mung, lotus seed and yi mi, or pearl's barley.

Dr Bai Jianwen of Shanghai East Hospital said this week there has been a spike in the number of emergency patients who have become sick from the heat. One major cause is the big difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures — "especially for white-collar workers in cold offices coming out into the heat. They suffer coughs, headaches and fever," Bai said.

Many elders may be hit with by latent heatstroke‚ Bai added. "They don't use air conditioners or they drink less at home.

"They don't take it seriously but actually it will cause dehydration."

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