The summers are getting hotter. The values measured between 2005 and 2015 show that summers have gotten much hotter than in the mid-20th century. New South Wales, Australia, experienced the hottest summer so far in 2017 and due to the climate change, the scientists believe that it will happen again.
Besides the high temperatures, drought, and strong sun, extreme heat is also one of the death causes. The body starts feeling ill when t heat exceeds 37.8°C. Symptoms include exhaustion, cramps, and dehydration, and if not treated immediately the consequences can be severe. Although people over 75 and children are the population at most risk, due to extreme temperatures other people are also affected.
Based on the records of the Australia Medical Association, over 500 people die of heat. Those with chronic and pre-existing conditions are also in the sensitive group. Until the climate change is addressed properly and temperatures start to fall, all people will have to start taking more care of themselves during the heatwaves. These protection measures are not going to stop the heat from affecting you but will protect you from overheating and make hot summers bearable.
1. Drink lots of fluids
Taking fluids is important to avoid dehydration and keep your electrolytes in check. However, not all liquids are good for you during the hot weather. Alcohol and sugary drinks will actually have an opposite effect and make you dehydrated. The same applies to caffeine, but if you have to take it, do it moderately.
Water is the most important fluid for humans. During hot summers it’s important to always carry a bottle of water with you, preferably chilled if possible. If you’re active, drink water every 15 minutes. A couple of sips will be enough even if you’re not thirsty. You can make your own rehydration drink with six teaspoons of sugar, half of teaspoon of salt and one liter of water. Sports drinks are also good to keep you hydrated and will also take care of the mineral levels.
2. Use your food properly
Food is sensitive to a high temperature since it will go bad faster. Spoiled food is a health risk and you should avoid eating anything that tastes or smells funny. All ingredients should be stored appropriately, in the refrigerator or in the pantry. If you carry the food with you, place it in appropriate containers which will protect it from the hot weather.
Also, avoid heavy foods and opt for vegetables and fruits. Fish and lean meats are ideal and not too strong. Make sure that you wash all your fruits and vegetables appropriately, to avoid stomach problems. They are also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and water to help you stay hydrated during the day.
3. Apply cold to pulse points
If you feel dizzy, have a headache, nausea, muscle cramps, sweat profusely, you’re most likely suffering from the heat exhaustion. Even one of these symptoms can be a troubling and more serious condition like sunstroke can even lead to hospitalization. You can make more breaks, use a hand fan and carry a frozen bottle of water with you to apply to pulse points. These include the neck, wrist, groin, behind the knee, near the ankle joint and on the foot.
There is another, more convenient solution for applying cold to the pulse points. Ice packs are used for sports injuries, joint inflammation or swelling. However, during extreme heats, they can help with reducing the inner body temperature. Some of the solutions on the market don’t need to be refrigerated before, but only squeezed for instant cooling effect.
4. Use air-conditioning
Air-conditioning is something that became an irreplaceable part of summer life. It’s also one of the things that make the extreme heats bearable. As stated by the Climacool company: “Australian weather can be unbearable! The weather tends to range from one extreme to the other on a weekly basis.” This means that working and the operational air-conditioning unit is important to have at work and home.
But besides performing regular maintenance and cleaning the filters weekly, you will have to pay attention to the temperature. Too big a difference between the outdoor and indoor temperature can be a shock to the system. Also, avoid pointing the air flow directly to where you’re sitting, since cold air can create problems with your sinuses or stiffness of the neck, among other problems.
5. Dress appropriately
Not all clothes are good for high temperatures. Cotton and linen are the most advised fabrics to wear since they are light and will help you stay cool. Synthetics like polyester and nylon can cause you to sweat more and create a bad odor. Silk is also one of the materials which don’t allow your body to breathe.
When it comes to color, choose the light ones. Lighter shades like beige absorb less sun, while black will only make you feel hotter. Looser cuts that don’t cling to the body will create the airflow between your body and the clothes. This will help you avoid excess sweating, retaining odor and be embarrassed because of the patches on your clothes.
In the end
Summers are supposed to be hot, but environmental problems and climate changes have taken that to the dangerous level. It will take a while to lower the temperatures to the normal ones so it’s better to be prepared for heat effects. Stay in the shade, dress light and always carry water with you are the basics of every summer survival kit.
And the most important of all is to know your body and not do anything detrimental in order to avoid some more severe conditions and hospitalization. Sun is good, but like all things only to the moderate amount.