DUBAI // Medical experts and officials are warning tens of thousands of construction workers and labourers to protect themselves while they fast during Ramadan.
The advice has been dispensed to more than 30,000 workers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah and Umm al Qaiwain over the past month.
The programme tells them what food to eat and what to avoid, along with other tips to keep safe in the heat.
"We will be holding more programmes during Ramadan for workers to give them safety advice about how they should have water, juice and light meals before they begin their fast," Abdul Al Bahar, a Ministry of Labour official, said yesterday. "We are making sure there are people to talk to labourers in their own language so they can take more care."
A cartoon character is also helping workers on construction sites and at labour camps stay safe in the heat. A 15-minute film shows a tangerine-shaped worker with a yellow helmet and grey boots explaining how to help avoid heat-related illnesses.
The animated clip with Hindi songs and Arabic subtitles is followed by discussions in which workers are told what precautions they should take to stay safe.
The moustached character tells the workers how he ignored the symptoms of dehydration and fell from a building he was helping to construct.
"Today, I will tell you a story that each of you will know as your own story ... so let's learn about how ill you can get because of the heat, how to read the signs, and what is the best treatment."
He advises workers to drink liquids with electrolytes or oral rehydrating solutions, which are crucial for the body as temperatures soar.
And he reminds the workers to put down their tools between 12.30pm and 3pm and follow the Government-enforced, midday break that extends until September 15.
"Our pharmacists advise them not to eat any food that would make them thirsty in the morning," said Raj Praveen, the marketing manager of the National Trading and Pharmaceutical Est, which produced the film and has organised the safety meetings in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour. "It's best to eat fruits, vegetable and rice, basically food that is not oily and spicy. We ask them to add salt to their food because they lose so much during the day. If they feel dehydrated, we advise that they should be ready to break their fast on a doctor's medical advice."
Yellow posters, titled "Heat can be hazardous", in six Indian languages, Arabic and English, are also distributed. Workers with diabetes and other illnesses are asked to inform medical staff about their condition.
"They ask about headaches, fatigue, and we tell them to be aware of these signs as well as muscle cramps, drowsiness and nausea," said Phiroz Babu, a pharmacist. "These are symptoms they must not ignore."