Heat Wave Triggers Electricity, Health and Fire Alerts 

A cyclo driver took his shirt off due to the hot weather. Photo: Soy Rathanakvisal

PHNOM PENH – Temperatures have been rising steadily since February and will continue to rise until the beginning of May. Since early April, they’ve often been over 38 degrees and even reached 41-42 degrees in some areas.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology forecasts that rainfalls will be fewer in the coming rainy season than it was in 2023. There will also be more thunderstorms and wind, as a result of the El Nino phenomenon, a climate pattern that originates in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and tends to increase temperatures and lower rainfalls in Southeast Asia. 

Alarmed by the current heat wave, Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior called on the public to be cautious about their health, and their water and electric consumption.

On April 5, EDC warned the public to check all electrical appliances to make sure they are in a good technical state, to make sure they don't overconsume.  Cooling materials should be cleaned, and gas stoves should always be monitored to prevent home fires, it said.

The use of power generated by EDC’s electricity supply system increased by 30 percent compared to the same period last year, the state company said. Such an increase requires electricity to be generated from fuel, which adds up to consumers’ electricity bills.

Therefore, EDC called on its customers to use electricity frugally to reduce the cost. A decrease in consumption will also allow it not to rely too much on these extra generators, which are supposed to be used only to answer a brief peak in demand – the supply might be at risk if one of them breaks down because of being overused.

The public is encouraged to reduce the use of air conditioners and to disconnect unused electronic appliances. If they can, people are also advised to choose recent and electric-efficient devices that require less electricity to function.

The Health Ministry also urged people to avoid opening their doors and windows during the day, which lets hot air come in, and not to let the fridge door open as a way to cool down a room.

It also warned the public to pay close attention to their physical as hot weather can have an impact on the health of people, especially vulnerable populations – elders, babies, children, pregnant women, factory and construction workers, athletes, low-immune people, and those with chronic diseases – the ministry said in a press release on April 7. 

The heat wave may cause some abnormal sweating, exhaustion, cramps, migraines, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, faintness, low pulse, and stroke. People experiencing these symptoms are advised to move to a cooler place and out of the sunlight. 

The ministry calls on the public to drink at least two liters of water, even though they are not thirty, as a way to prevent dehydration, diarrhea or other sickness that further dehydrates the body.

People are not encouraged to consume too much coffee, alcohol, tea, or drinks with caffeine, sugar, and salt as it stops the hydration in the body. They are also encouraged to wear long-sleeve clothes that protect them from sun rays. Children and babies should not wear thick pieces of cloth that might increase sweating.

People are also encouraged to avoid staying in the sun for too long and to install curtains at their windows to block the sunlight during the day. They should also open their door and windows early morning and at night to favor the circulation of cooler air into their homes.

As the Khmer New Year is approaching, the ministry also warned that ceremonies and public gatherings should be scheduled in the morning or evening to avoid the high temperatures of the day.

People may shower when they feel too hot, and wipe themselves with cold towels after being in the sun. However, the ministry encourages the public to stay at home or in any cool place. 

Elders, children under two years old, people with chronic diseases, and those with mental illness must be looked after and checked upon regularly to make sure they are in good health. 

The ministry also urged to limit the use of gas stoves or ovens to limit the increase of temperatures inside the homes.

In early March, Prime Minister Hun Manet also called on authorities and the public to be more cautious of fire outbreaks, particularly during the dry season with temperatures possibly topping 41 degrees.

Ministry of Interior spokesperson Touch Sokhak suggested the public remain cautious about their electricity and cooking equipment. In this dry season, the caution should be higher. 

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