Summer is kicking in and yes, I have tons of hot puns (see what I did there?) but TBH, the heat is no joke. Inquirer.net reports that this week, several cities throughout the country had a heat index—defined as the “apparent temperature or what humans perceive or feel as the temperature affecting the body”—which PAGASA considered to be “dangerous.” Meaning, they reached 41 degrees Celsius or higher. In fact, the highest heat index recorded as of recent is at 51.7 degrees Celsius, in Dagupan City. And the agency says it could get worse in May.
Dost_pagasa has identified several “heat danger zones,” or areas in the country experiencing extreme heat that may pose…
Residents of these areas are especially prone to health risks, ranging from minor cramps and heat exhaustion, to something as dire as a heat stroke. To prevent these, PAGASA advises the public to take concrete actions, such as wear lightweight and light-colored clothing, lather on sunscreen, and drink water regularly. But aside from these basics, there are other things you can do to combat the heat wave.
Ditch handheld electric fans, go for misting bottles
This has become a staple, I see them on almost every person in my commutes. If you’re one of them, be warned. Life Hacker points out that it is not recommended when the temperature outside is more than 35 degrees Celsius, explaining that “Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but they don’t do anything to actually reduce your body temperature. Furthermore, they dry the skin so evaporation can’t occur. This false comfort and lack of cooling could lead to a surprise attack of sunstroke.” Don’t worry, there’s an alternative: A misting bottle. “A quick spurt or two of water covers your face in tiny water droplets that will quickly evaporate and help you cool off. It will only help lower your temperature a little bit, but it will help you feel more comfortable,” the site points out.
Cut down on fried, fatty food
This is a hard compromise, I know. We’re not saying to avoid these food items entirely—just lower your intake because, as Fit pointed out, “Fat has a thermal effect on our bodies.” Times of India stressed that “eating too much protein also increases the metabolic rate and warms the body.” You should take note of other “heat-giving food items” as well, such as onions, garlic, spinach, and beetroot.
You should instead opt for food items that provide a cooling effect on the body like watermelons, coconut water, and cucumbers. Remember also to load up on citrus fruits to get the required dose of Vitamin C. And just in time for Holy Week, it’s actually suggested you limit the red meat and indulge in seafood instead.
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
I know. This one is especially challenging. But fact is, alcohol and caffeine both act as diuretics and promote dehydration so you should avoid them as much as possible. The most effective dehydration treatment is of course to drink plenty of water. Doctors recommend drinking 2 litres of water every day for adults. Fluids such as buttermilk and coconut water are also useful in preventing dehydration. You can also opt for fresh fruit juices.
Watch out for symptoms
This is very important, so take notes. For most, it might be difficult to differentiate between experiencing heat-related illness and simply reacting to an unbearable summer day—especially for menopausal women, hot flashes are an issue. The Big Smoke notes, “Hot flashes occur abruptly and equally disappear spontaneously, often lasting between a few seconds to several minutes. The hot flashes generally occur around the face, neck, and chest and can occasionally be accompanied by sweating, redness, and palpitations.” Additionally, medical officer Richard Rusk told Global News that when you feel extremely hot but aren’t sweating, it’s best to go see a physician, as it could indicate heat exhaustion, which could lead to heat stroke.
Eliminate the extra source of heat
I’m sure you’ve thought about this before. Let’s just make it clear: Light bulbs—yes, even environmentally-friendly ones—emit heat. These days, even at night, the heat is something else. What you can do is use lights minimally or not at all. Actually, try the latter. It’s pretty therapeutic too. Just play music, which has a “cooling effect”—you know, like Bon Iver (am I the only one who thinks this?)
Also, most people fail to realize that computers and other electronic appliances generate unnecessary heat when left open or running. So think of ways to minimize your gadget use. One way is in terms of meal choices, you can go for fresh food that do not require an oven or stove to be prepared.
Avoid sudden temperature changes
After suffering in the summer heat, your first instinct may be to go somewhere cold, or turn on your air conditioner on full blast, but try to hold off on that. It’s highly important you let your body adjust. This also applies to when you’re coming out of a cold place and stepping out where it’s hot. According to Outlook India, “The sudden changes in temperature can cause muscle spasms and numerous infections if you aren’t careful.” Trust me, I have experienced instant dizziness when I step out of our air-conditioned office to the sweltering heat outside, and it’s pretty scary.
Check on loved ones who are more susceptible to health risks
According to NHS UK, this includes older people (especially those over 75), babies and young children, people with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems, people with mobility problems (for example, people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke), people with serious mental health problems, people on certain medications (including those that affect sweating and temperature control), people who misuse alcohol or drugs, and people who are physically active, like labourers or those doing sport.
Don’t also forget about your pets! Medicine.net lists down the signs of a heat stroke in a pet. When you notice rapid panting, wide eyes, lots of drooling, hot skin, twitching muscles, vomiting, and a dazed look, it’s time to a vet. The site suggests giving them a bath or shower, as well as provide them with a cool towel on a tile floor to lay on and make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink.
Art by Marian Hukom
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