What to do during heatstroke

A PERSON, trapped in a vehicle under scorching heat, can only survive for between 20 and 30 minutes. Prolonged exposure to heat will lead to complications as the temperature inside a vehicle can hit 56°C within 30 minutes if the outdoor temperature is 38°C. Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature.

The body begins to overheat and is unable to function normally when it is no longer able to cool itself. Body temperature will continue to rise, often to 40°C or higher, if one is in the vehicle for more than 10 minutes. It can be life-threatening or result in serious, long-term complications.

This is what you should do if a person is suffering from heatstroke:

  • Move the person to a cool place.

  • Remove the person’s unnecessary clothing, and place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as possible.

  • Cool the entire body by sponging or spraying cold water, and fan the person to help lower the body temperature. Watch for signs of rapidly progressing heatstroke, such as a seizure, unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds, and moderate to severe difficulty in breathing.

  • Apply ice packs over as much of the body as you can. Areas include the groin, armpits, neck and back.

  • Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce body temperature as these medicines may cause problems because of the body’s response to heatstroke.

  • If the person is awake and alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids (one to two litres over one to two hours). Most with heatstroke have an altered level of consciousness and cannot safely be given fluids to drink. You may have to help. Make sure the person is sitting upright so that he or she does not choke.

  • Parents should put something in the back of their vehicle that requires them to open the back door each time they park, such as a mobile phone, employee badge, handbag, lunch, or even a shoe.

  • Keep a large stuffed animal on the car seat. When you’re driving with your child in the car, place the stuffed animal on the front seat as a visual reminder that your child is with you.

  • Make it a routine to open the back door of your car every time you get out. Make it a habit to open the back door of your car and check the seats whenever you exit the vehicle.

  • Too often children are left in cars because the person watching them isn’t familiar with their routine or safety precautions.

  • Pay close attention to schedule changes or holidays, when you’re more distracted. Families suffer tragedies when they are running late or have an emergency meeting at work. Make an effort to be extra vigilant when you know you have got a lot going on.

Fatal distraction

WHO in the right mind would forget a child in the backseat of the car?

A cold, senseless, stupid, reckless person who should never have been trusted with a child in the first place? No.

Parents who accidentally leave their children to die horrifyingly in a hot car could be any of us.

It happens to:

The chronically absent-minded.

The fanatically organised.

The very-educated and to the marginally literate.

People are mortal, imperfect and fallible.

Pointing fingers and punishing them does not prevent the next mistake; creating a system that assumes fallibility and works around it makes practical sense.

Such is the case with hyperthermia deaths in cars.

Children only began dying in cars with alarming regularity in recent years.

What changed?

Unintended consequences. In the ’90s laws began requiring children ride in the back seat of the car, where they were safer.

But they were also less likely to be seen and therefore more easily forgotten.

Add to that a parent who, in nearly every case, changes the daily routine and simply forgets that he or she didn’t already drop the baby off at the sitter’s on the way to work.

Think that could never happen to you? Think that parents who do this should be tried for manslaughter and sent to jail?

Consider how these families punish themselves, and see if you still feel the same way.

Children dying in hot cars is a phenomenon that shows no sign of abating.

The facts in each case differ a little, but always there is the terrible moment when the parent realises what he or she has done, often through a phone call from a spouse or caregiver.

This is followed by a frantic sprint to the car. What awaits there is the worst thing in the world.

Each instance has its own macabre signature.

As in Kulai, Johor, on Tuesday when one father had parked his car outside the office to rush for work only to discover his child’s body in the back seat five hours later.

Was that an act of human failing? Would that challenge society’s views about crime, punishment, justice and mercy?

In such cases, evidence has often determined that a child’s death was a terrible accident: a mistake of memory.

A lapse of memory that delivers a lifelong sentence of guilt far greater than any a judge could mete out.

In cases where authorities decide that the negligence was so great and the injury so grievous that it must be called a crime, it must be aggressively pursued.

Clearly, we need an understanding of why it happens to the people it happens to.

Memory is a machine and it is not flawless. Our conscious mind prioritises things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you’re capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child.

This article first appeared in Malay Mail Afternoon E-Paper yesterday

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Activists: Negligent parents 
should face music

PETALING JAYA — Parents who cause the death of their children by leaving them behind in hot cars should not be let off the hook easily.

Voice of the Children chairman Sharmila Sekaran said law enforcers must pursue such cases and ensure those guilty are brought to court to avoid more cases of parents leaving their children behind in cars.

“The amended Child Act 2015 has included stricter punishments for parents who neglect their kids, however the authorities must strongly enforce it so parents are punished according to those laws,” she said.

“Law enforcers must step up and recommend these parents are prosecuted otherwise there will be more cases of parents or caregivers leaving children locked up in cars for hours, causing them to die.”

Sharmila said the process of testifying in court acts as an awareness by itself since parents would have to openly admit their wrongdoing which caused injury or death of their child.

“Parents who do not prioritise their child’s welfare should not be handed the pity card as they must be held responsible for their actions,” she added.

Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said parents must be prosecuted and punished for the sheer act of parental neglect.

“Child negligence cases have been happening for far too long and nothing much has been done so far. This is extremely disheartening,” he said.

He said the authorities must prevent needless child deaths from occurring by placing the interest of children first before anything else.

“The safety of children must not be compromised at all cost. If the authorities do not come down hard in cases of child neglect, we will only see more cases happening,” said Lee.

He said parents must be exposed to the severity of the child laws so they will be aware of the effects which will befall them if they were to neglect their children.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun said Malaysians should stand united and defend the neglected child instead of sympathising with parents who abandon their children.

“We should not be divided and worry about the emotions of those parents who have neglected their child. There are no two ways about this as action must be taken against irresponsible parents,” said Azizah.

She said there had been cases of parents being prosecuted for neglect under Section 31 of the Child Act 2001 in the past, however not every case was reported.

“We need intense enforcement to wake these parents up so that they will put their child first in all that they do,” she said.

She said the ministry will be working with activists, parents associations and the community in tackling this issue.

“We will work together to carry out campaigns and advertisements which will bring awareness regarding child laws and the consequences in event of parents neglecting their children,”
she said.

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Indonesian embraces Malayalee culture

KAJANG – Samsidar Hasibuan is not your everyday domestic help.

The 48-year-old Indonesian has spent 16 years living with S. Karunanithy and his family at their home in Taman Kajang Jaya. As a result, she is able to not only speak Malayalam fluently but cook authentic Malayalee dishes as well.

Samsidar has been celebrating Onam — a major harvest festival commemorated by the Malayalee community worldwide — since working in Malaysia. Yesterday, however, would be her last Onam here.

“I’ll be returning to Indonesia but when I go home, I will still celebrate Onam as it is close to my heart,” she said.

“I love staying here. I don’t feel like I’m working. I’ve learnt the culture and I respect the rituals. But the time has come for me to return to my family in Indonesia. I miss them dearly.”

She said working here allowed her to learn a lot about the community’s tradition.

Karunanithy’s wife, Jessy Karuna, 53, said Samsidar was like family.

“She raised our sons Sanjay Kumar (now 28) and Parthik (16). We have never treated her like a maid … she’s more of a sister to me,” Jessy said.

“We communicate in Malayalam and she understands the language well. This is mainly because my mother (R. Kanakamma, 78) only speaks Malayalam at home.”

Samsidar helped Jessy and Kanakamma prepare a hearty feast early yesterday as the family celebrated Onam. It is a major celebration in India, especially in Kerala, where the state enjoys a five-day break.

In addition to the entrances of homes being decorated with “pookalam”, the feast — a minimum nine-course vegetarian meal consisting of 11 to 13 dishes — plays a significant role in welcoming the mythical King Mahabali, who is popular in Malayalee lore.

While the women were busy cooking, Karunanithy, 58, and his sons prepared drinks, offered sweets to guests, and cut banana leaves to serve the food on.

Rich in experience, it was only natural for Kanakamma to be the “head chef”, with Jessy and Samsidar playing assistants, as they prepared lunch, better known as Onam sadhya.

“My mum’s a perfectionist and the ingredients are her well-kept secret. I have to make sure we have everything in stock before she heads to the stove,” Jessy said.

Kanakamma said the celebration was more than just about cooking.

“It is a good opportunity to reunite the family for lunch, so they will be joined by King Mahabali,” she said.

Kanakamma says the dishes were easy to cook “only if you know how to make them”.

Dr M should apologise, says PKR Wanita chief

PETALING JAYA — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad needs to make a public apology to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the role he allegedly played in having Anwar arrested and jailed.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin said the former prime minister needed to issue the apology on his own volition so he would be seen as sincere in wanting to cooperate with the PKR de facto chief.

She said Dr Mahathir, who had now “turned political enemy of the current administration”, needed to “prove” he was sincere by making a public apology to Anwar and his family if he felt he had erred in having sacked the then deputy prime minister.

“This is a personal matter and most will be reluctant to say Dr Mahathir needs to apologise, despite sentiment being such,” Zuraida said.

“But it is better if he comes out openly and voluntarily.”

However, she said, whether there was an apology or not, cooperation between PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), which Dr Mahathir helmed, would not be hindered.

“All quarters need to cooperate if they want to see a change in the government,” she said.

Yesterday, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Nuha, said Dr Mahathir must “own up” to the “trumped-up” sodomy and corruption charges against Anwar in 1998 before thinking about forming any alliance with his former deputy.

“As a daughter who has witnessed the countless torments my father went through the past 18 years, my personal wish would be for Dr Mahathir to publicly apologise and admit the trumped-up charges,” she told Malay Mail Online.

“I think that would alleviate some of the hardships we went through as a family. It’s not supposed to get easier, but you just need to get stronger.”

PKR vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar described Nurul Nuha’s demand as a personal matter between her family and Dr Mahathir.

“We were not in their shoes … only Nuha’s family knew how they felt at that time,” he said.

Dr Xavier said he did not know in detail what had transpired during the meeting between Dr Mahathir and Anwar on Sept 6, but the party was ready to move forward for the betterment of the country.

“What I can read from the meeting, the Opposition would emerge stronger than before,” he said.

Dr Xavier said he shared the sentiment of PPBM president, former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in wanting to work with the Opposition to free Anwar.

“That’s a good move for a start as only if there is a change in leadership that we will be able to determine Anwar’s fate,” he said.

PKR vice-president Tian Chua agreed with Dr Xavier the apology being sought from Dr Mahathir was a personal matter.

“We should leave the matter to them,” he said.

Bersih 5 rally on Nov 19

KUALA LUMPUR — Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah announced yesterday the fifth edition of the electoral watchdog’s street rally will be held on Nov 19.

She also said the group would conduct a roadshow across the country a month before the rally.

“Bersih 2.0 will launch a nationwide Bersih convoy on Saturday, Oct 1, which will culminate in the Bersih 5 rally on Nov 19,” she told a press conference.

The convoy, which will cover the whole country including Sabah and Sarawak, aim sto “start a nationwide conversation” on Malaysia’s crises.

It would be flagged off simultaneously in six regions — Northern Peninsula (Kangar, Perlis), Southern Peninsula (Johor Baru, Johor), East Coast (Kota Baru, Kelantan), West Coast (Lumut, Perak), Sabah (Sandakan) and Sarawak (Miri).

The convoy would feature “Bersih torches” that would be passed throughout the 246 stops planned.

Bersih is demanding for reforms to become a national agenda, for the parliamentary democracy system to be strengthened, and for the prime minister to step down.

The campaign will use a theme which translates to “Combine our energy — New Malaysia”, with an open invitation for all political parties, including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, to take part. — Malay Mail Online

Mahathir’s dilemma: To say ‘sorry’ or not

PETALING JAYA — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is in a dilemma as his pursuit to be a part of the grand opposition coalition aimed at toppling Barisan Nasional (BN) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak hits rocky road.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter, Nurul Nuha, had called for him to apologise publicly for the “trumped-up” sodomy and corruption charges against her father back in 1998 before even thinking about forming any alliance with the jailed Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader.

Dr Mahathir’s party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), is also in a spot as pressure is mounting on its president, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to commit to free Anwar from jail the minute the Opposition wins the next general election.

Anwar is an important factor for PPBM to be fully accepted and recognised on the same level as other parties in the opposition pact because without Anwar’s consent and, in this case, his family’s consent, the entire opposition grand plan may not materialise.

While Anwar may accept and recognise Dr Mahathir and PPBM as among Pakatan Harapan’s partners — although he has yet to officially make a statement — his family members are treating it as a personal matter.

His wife, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and daughter, party vice-president Nurul Izzah, were not present when Dr Mahathir went to meet Anwar in court on Sept 6.

In fact, Dr Wan Azizah is rumoured as not pleased with the meeting as she still has not forgotten the trauma the family went through when Dr Mahathir expelled her husband, leading to his arrest in 1998.

Nuha’s call for the apology, although it did not come to the stage of demand, reflected the level of trust and forgiveness towards Dr Mahathir, who is in a desperate situation to unseat Najib and defeat BN.

Her words, despite not shared by many PKR leaders who think the matter is personal, are seen as a reflection of the views held by Dr Wan Azizah and her followers, who are also not in sync with party deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

With Nuha’s call and the need to have strong political ties — PPBM needs PKR’s friendship more so than the other way round — Dr Mahathir is stuck between a wall and a rock.

Apologising would mean going back on his own words when he was prime minister and responsible for putting Anwar in jail, and not apologising would mean his party, plans and goals would not even take off the ground.

PPBM needs a favour from PKR because only PKR can give it the seats it needed, besides PAS, which is not in the opposition pact.

PPBM cannot afford to put candidates in seats held by PKR and PAS as this will create multi-cornered fights which will lead to BN emerging as winners.

Under such circumstances, Dr Mahathir may either have to “lick his wounds” for the sake of his party and followers, or see his plans and goals go down the drain.

There is no two-way about it unless Anwar comes out publicly to forgive Dr Mahathir. But doing so would mean Anwar admits he is indeed guilty of the crimes he was charged with and jailed.

Subra, Nazri agree to stop public feuds

KUALA LUMPUR — MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said he met with Umno’s Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz earlier yesterday and they agreed not to publicly criticise Barisan Nasional (BN) parties.

In a statement, Dr Subramaniam also urged MIC members not to squabble with other BN component parties to ensure no division within the ruling coalition.

“We met this morning before the weekly Cabinet meeting and agreed continuous exchange of statements and counter statements will not augur well for the BN as whole,” the health minister said.

Dr Subramaniam said while it was conducive to have political discourse, disparaging remarks would only have the opposite effect, like recent statements made by Nazri which had “hurt the feelings of grassroot MIC leaders.”

Nazri told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview Umno was the dominant party in BN because other components had to rely on “parachuting” their leaders and candidates into safe areas rather than fielding locals to contest. He cited Dr Subramaniam as an example, pointing out the latter was MP for Segamat despite being a Penang native.

This prompted MCA’s Datuk Ti Lian Ker to challenge Nazri to join DAP, accusing him of favouring the opposition party more than his BN allies.

Nazri responded on Monday by saying he has more respect for DAP as it at least has the support of voters, and called the MCA central committee member a “reject”.

Indonesian clerics issue fatwa against forest fires

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s highest Islamic council has issued a fatwa on burning land and forests, a government official said yesterday, in an effort to halt the toxic smog that blankets the region each year.

The fatwa is not legally binding but is aimed at discouraging plantation companies and farmers from clearing land using slash-and-burn methods in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

“There was a meeting between the environment minister and the Indonesian Clerics’ Council, which issued fatwa No. 30/2016 about forest and land burning law,” said ministry spokesman Novrizal Tahar.

“The point is an act (of burning) that causes environmental damage, according to (the council) decision, is illegitimate.”

The council was not immediately available for comment and it was unclear why it had waited so long to make the ruling.

Every year, Indonesia faces criticism from its neighbours Singapore and Malaysia over the haze and its failure to stop the fires from being lit.

Last year’s fires were among the worst in the region’s history, with billions of dollars worth of environmental damage, weeks of flight and school disruptions and thousands suffering from respiratory disease. — Reuters

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Meranti brings parts of Taiwan to standstill

TAIPEI — Parts of Taiwan were brought to a standstill yesterday as super typhoon Meranti skirted past the island’s southern tip, bringing the strongest winds in 21 years and disrupting traffic ahead of a major holiday.

Although the category 5 storm did not make landfall, the storm brought violent winds and torrential rain to eastern and southern Taiwan.

At 1pm (same time in Malaysia) typhoon Meranti was 90km west-northwest of southernmost Hengchun township, packing gusts of up to 234km per hour.

Hengchun’s observation station recorded the strongest winds in its 120-year history earlier yesterday, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.

“This typhoon is the world’s strongest so far this year and it will have its most significant impact on Taiwan today, weather bureau spokesman Hsieh Pei-yun said.

“It is the strongest typhoon to hit Taiwan in 21 years in terms of maximum sustained wind near the centre,” she said.

Southern Kenting, a tourist destination known for its white-sand beaches, was battered by winds and floods. Residents in a fishing port in southern Taitung county woke up to find a small lighthouse had disappeared and believed powerful winds blew it off into the sea, as waves almost 10m high lashed the shore in the area.

Trucks and cargo containers were overturned while electricity poles and trees were blown down by winds in some southern areas. One uprooted tree hit a car in southern Kaohsiung city, though the driver was unharmed.

There were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries, according to the Central Emergency Operation Centre.

School and work were cancelled for most eastern and southern counties, and the typhoon has knocked out power for more than 300,000 households.

There are severe travel disruptions for the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend which starts today, as over 300 domestic and international flights have been cancelled and trains running along the east coast have been halted.

More than 130 ferry services to offshore islets and to several Chinese coastal cities have also been suspended. — AFP

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