People are concerned about what precautions and preventative measures they should take to protect themselves from the ill effects of a heatwave as the severity of the heat increases exponentially day by day and a weather warning for the same has been issued almost on a daily basis. Dr. Harish Chafle, Senior Consultant in Pulmonology and Critical Care at Global Hospital, Parel Mumbai, discusses some simple heatwave prevention strategies.
1. Stay Cool
Wear Light Clothing: Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing to avoid rashes and allergies.
Stay Indoors: Try to stay around air-conditioned places as much as possible. If your home does not have air coolers, visit a shopping mall or library which has AC or coolers which will help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
• Keep in mind: Electric fans are comfortable and might give you relief during normal days, but when the temperature goes really high, electric fans won`t prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cold and fresh shower two times a day or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool yourself.
Avoid Outdoor Activities: Try avoiding going for your outdoor activity during afternoons when the temperature hits maximum. Try to finish your errands when it’s coolest, like during morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.
Avoid doing heavy exercise during the heat for long hours. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, stop all activities.
Wear Sunscreen/ SPF: To protect yourself from the sun wear SPF. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and it can make you dehydrated. If you’re going outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
• Tip: Look for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels. They work best.
Avoid Taking Children In Cars: Cars can rapidly heat up to high temperatures, even with a window slightly open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting a heat stroke or even lead death. So, make sure, you don’t leave infants, kids, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows open.
Avoid Meals That Are Hot And Heavy: They add heat to your body and can worsen your situation.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drink Plenty Of Fluids: Regardless of how energetic you feel, keep drinking water at regular intervals even if you are not thirsty. Keep track of how much water you are drinking in a day.
• Warning: If your doctor has asked you not to drink water after a certain limit or has kept you on water pills, consult the doctor about how much water you can drink in this hot weather.
• Stay Away From Very Sugary Or Alcoholic Drinks: Consumption of sugar or alcoholic products during heat days actually causes you to lose more body fluid. Avoid drinking, this may lead to stomach cramps.
Replace Salt And Minerals: Excessive sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that needs to be replaced. You can replace the salt and minerals you lose through sweat with a sports drink. If you are struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, or some other medical condition, please concern your doctor before you drink a sports beverage or consume salt tablets.
Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Take care of your pets and train them to drink water at regular intervals, also keep water for them so that they can drink it regularly.
3. Stay Informed
Check for Updates: Keep checking local news channels and newspapers for regular heat alerts and safety tips.
Know the Signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.
Monitor Those at High Risk: Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but some people are at greater risk. Do pay little extra attention to them.
• Infants and young children
• People 65 years of age or older
• People who are overweight
• People who overexert during work or exercise
• People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.
If any find signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke appear, transport them to the hospital immediately. Heat-related ailments are easily preventable. Learn the indicators of a heat-related disease and what can be done swiftly if a loved one exhibits these signs.
Also Read: Heatwave: Here's How You Can Keep Your Child Safe From Rising Temperatures