Haze alert up

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo, Jessa Mae O. Sotto, Morexette B. Erram, Rosalie Abatayo January 06,2018 - 10:59 PM

People urged to protect selves from smoke, avoid area near fire scene

Take precautions for the smoke coming from the ongoing Gaisano Metro Ayala store fire.

Nagiel Bañacia, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) chief, gave this advise on Saturday after the CCDRRMO issued a haze alert in the area near the fire scene at the Cebu Business Park.

Aside from that, Bañacia also told residents and people manning or staying in establishments near the fire scene to leave the area for a safer location if thick smoke would make it difficult for them to stay in their homes or establishments.

Smoke risks

Dr. Shelbay Blanco, Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) Health Emergency Management coordinator, also advised residents especially those with cardiorespiratory illness to refrain from going near the area as the smoke from the fire would decrease oxygen supply in the body.

Blanco said breathing the fumes for long periods of time can cause headaches, reduce alertness, cause chest pains, respiratory irritation and shortness of breathing.

“Fumes are irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat and its smell can cause nausea,” Blanco said.

Wear masks

The smoke can also increase the risk of “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” (COPD) or Asthma, added Blanco.

She also said that residents could also wear face masks with a wet cloth inside the mask as another precaution if the smoke would reach their residences.

Dr. Alice Aycardo, City Health Department assistant health officer, also said that barangay health centers in Barangays Kamputhaw, Barrio Luz, Hipodromo, Mabolo, and Lahug will be open to those who seek health assistance.

Health centers

Aycardo said health centers will be open this Sunday while they continue to assess the situation.

“We are still assessing because as of now nawala na ang smoke on most areas that are highly affected,” Aycardo said.

Aside from those having a respiratory ailment, doctors said pregnant women, infants, children and elderly are also vulnerable to the health effects of smoke exposure.

“We advise those who have respiratory issues to avoid the area as much as possible,” said Aycardo.

Measures taken

Meanwhile, establishments such as two hotels and a hospital located near the Metro Gaisano Ayala store implemented precautionary measures to protect their guests and patients after the haze alert was issued.

Aaron Que, Golden Prince Hotel vice president for corporate communications, said they had installed industrial fans at the entry and exit points of the hotel to blow away the smoke.

Que said the hotel’s filtration devices were activated since the fire started on Friday evening to cleanse the air in case some amount of smoke would get into the hotel.

“We are using various preventive measures such as adjusting our air conditioning system, to make sure that the air within the property is clean,” Que told Cebu Daily News.

The hotel is located 350 meters away from the fire scene.

Que said the hotel staff and guests were provided with face masks to prevent them from inhaling the smoke.

At the nearby Islands Stay Hotels-Uptown, located 190 meters away from the mall, owner Jay Aldeguer said they had informed the guests about the warning.

If they decide to stay, it will be at their own risk, he said.

“We are also offering guests to transfer to (the) Mactan (branch) if preferred,” said Aldeguer, the chief executive officer of the Islands Group of which Islands Stay Hotels is one of the companies.

There were concerns raised regarding the safety of the 220 admitted patients at the Perpetual Succour Hospital following news that the smoke has reached the medical institution’s premises.

But Faith Ecleo, the hospital’s nurse supervisor, assured the patients, their families and personnel that they are protected from the risks of getting lung diseases because of the smoke.

The hospital is located 650 meters away from Metro Ayala.

“Everyone is okay since all the rooms, including hospital wards, are air-conditioned. The patients only stay inside their rooms,” she said adding that all health personnel were mandated to wear their surgical masks.

Meanwhile, members of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc. (HRRACI) trooped to the incident command center located in the Ayala Terminal to donate food and and water for firefighters and other volunteers.

“We sent the email to our members at 1 p.m. and many responded. We have positive feedback from many members. As an organization, we support our local government, our brave firefighters, our local police to help them in the job. Hopefully, the fire will be put out soon,” said HRRACI president Carlo Anton B. Suarez.

Suarez, the general manager of Cebu Grand Hotel, said that Cebuanos come together to help each other during trying times such as the Metro Ayala fire.

“The spirit of bayanihan and community service is alive among the Cebuanos today. We are all here to help and share what we can especially to the firefighters who work so hard to put out the fire,” he said.

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TAGS: alert, avoid, haze, people, protect, selves, smoke, urged

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