Staff Reporter THE elderly, children and the chronically ill are the groups in the Balearics whose health is most at risk from high temperatures this summer. Dangers include heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Aina Castillo, regional minister was speaking yesterday at the presentation of a “Keeping healthy in Summer” programme which aims to control the numbers of people adversely affected by the season's heat.

The ministry is to invest 20'000 euros in a public-awareness campaign which will be launched shortly. Its objective is to advise people on what measures should be taken to prevent their falling prey to illness associated with high temperatures, not only in terms of action but also to be able to make early detection.

However, acknowledged Castillo, this summer is not expected to be as hot as last. Even if it is repeated, said the minister, it's important that people are better prepared to cope with extreme heat.

Antoni Pallicer, Public Health director, signalled that some of the preventive measures which should be used to avoid heat-related health problems, include not sunbathing to an excessive extent (especially in the case of children); protecting eyes; drinking more water and wearing light clothing to allow the skin to “breathe”.

Pallicer went on to make suggestions for healthy practices in the preparation of food in the peak summer months, such as taking extra precautions in hygiene, eating fresh food and not taking products out of cold storage and then putting them back in again before consumption. On any doubt concerning prevention of heat-related illness and the preparation and conservation of food, people can consult the emergency service's 24-hour information line on 061.

The ministry has also included in this programme, a demand for meteorological information for health professionals who would need an update when faced with weather conditions which could increase health risks; a daily report on mortality rates; and special health care units to focus on the fragile and vulnerable in hospitals and medical centres in the event of excessive heat.

Sergio Bertrán, director of Ib-salut, the Balearic health service, indicated that he has strengthened numbers in Primary Health Care across the Islands with 37 professionals, 21 of whom are doctors and the rest, nursing staff. The move comes “as a consequence of the increase in size of the floating population in the region”.