Al Ain: Ground temperatures have shot up beyond 52C in Al Ain and other inland desert cities as south-easterly winds pump in scorching air from the Empty Quarter, said weathermen.

Dry and extremely hot conditions, particularly in the open, are unbearable, said residents as doctors advised people to take precautions to avoid heat related illnesses.

The Dubai Met Office yesterday reported a maximum temperature of 47C in some parts of the city. The conditions are much worse in Al Ain, Jebel Ali, Minhad, and some interior cities where the mercury has jumped to 49C. The dry south-easterly winds have also reduced humidity level.

The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) has warned of extremely hot weather that may continue up to Friday.

The temperature is above the normal usually during this month and weathermen see no respite in heat for the next few days.

With the difference in the atmospheric and ground temperatures, rumours are rife that the Met Office is deliberately showing a lesser temperature in the official reports.

People also believe that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends suspension of work once the temperature goes above 50C.

"This is an allegation as we are neither hiding the actual temperature nor have the authorities instructed us to hide it," said Dr S.K. Gupta, a duty forecaster at Dubai Met Office.

He said the reports are of the atmospheric temperature and that is always different from ground level temperature.

Dr Gupta said ground temperature is always misleading since it depends on the type of the surface. "It varies on wooden, cement, metallic, sandy and rocky surfaces," he said.

Explaining the phenomenon, Dr Gupta said: "[Yesterday] the general temperature in Dubai is 45C at 12pm but the ground level is showing two to three degree higher reading at two runways of the Dubai airport."

'No WHO restrictions'

Dr Jean-Luc Vaillant, a consultant in family medicine at a government hospital in Al Ain, has denied any UN or WHO restriction on work in extremely hot temperatures.

"It is the responsibility of individual countries and local authorities to take occupational safety measures," he said. The UAE government has already introduced suspension of construction work during the hottest hours of the summer days.

There are, however, recommendations of a WHO scientific group on health factors involved in working under conditions of heat stress.

It said: "It is inadvisable for deep body temperature to exceed 38C [100F] in prolonged daily exposure to heavy work. In closely controlled conditions the deep body temperature may be allowed to rise to 39C [102.2F]."

Dr Vaillant said body temperature increases sharply when a person continuously involves in strenuous work in hot temperature.

"During temperatures as high as 50C, workers should avoid direct sun exposure, especially during warmer period [10:00 to 15:00]," he said.

"Yet all these measures are insufficient if workers are constantly exposed to heat. With a body temperature above 39C the patient is at risk of multiple organ failure and may die if not promptly treated. So regular cooling period [during which workers can also have fluids] is mandatory. This off course must happen in a shaded and if possible ventilated area," said Dr Vaillant.

How to beat the summer heat

- Drink 3 litres of water or fruit juices every day to avoid dehydration.

- Avoid soft drinks and alcohol.

- Use plenty of sun creams for protection from the sunshine. Check the sun protection factor of the sun block cream.

- Wear a vest inside to absorb the sweat.

- Get a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.

- Get a good chap stick for the cracked and dry lips.

- Cut down on meats and eat salads.

- Weakness, mental confusion, and nausea are signs of heat stress.

First aid

- If someone is unconscious and has very high body temperature, he must be brought to hospital quickly.

- Meanwhile, bring down the body temperature by spraying cold water on the affected person.