Heat wave: how to be prepared

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 25, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long there are health risks. The temperature is soaring each day, with a searing heat wave claiming dozens of lives in southern states of India.


The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion: Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke: It could be a life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.


Coping with hot weather

If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot weather doesn't harm you or anyone you know. Knowing how to keep cool during long periods of hot weather can help save lives. The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable and reducing health risks:

  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don't go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you're vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • Stay safe inside: shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it's safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
  • Keep rooms cool: Use shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn't possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Splash yourself with cool water: have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Know the summer foods: plan simpler meals that don’t require cooking. Salads and cold fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe are full of water and will help you stay cool.
  • Keep consuming liquids: Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.


Prevention from Heatwave

  • Stay aware of the weather forecast: Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or on the Met Office website.
  • Wear loose clothes: Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors.

If you're worried about yourself or a vulnerable neighbour, friend or relative, get them somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink. Seek medical help if symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or don't go away.

Image Source: Getty

Read more articles on Heat Stroke.


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