If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been staying inside the past few weeks. With temperatures rising up to the 90s for consecutive days, it’s probably for the best to stay out of the heatwaves as much as possible.
Heat health isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to taking care of your health. But it’s vitally important that we monitor the effects that it can have on our bodies and take necessary actions to combat them.
Heatwaves have been on the rise in recent years. According to the World Health Organization, in 2015 alone around 175 million people were exposed to heatwaves. This increase also means increased mortality rates. The deaths are usually a result of exposure to excess heat, which can severely worsen pre-existing conditions and chronic diseases.
Extreme heat doesn’t just affect those with pre-existing conditions. Healthy people can experience adverse side effects as well, ranging from dehydration, heat cramps and if left unchecked heat stroke. Not only that, but there are indirect effects that occur on a national level.
The obvious one is the impact on health services. The summer months see higher rates of hospitalizations and ambulance calls. There’s also a higher rate of work-related accidents along with drownings.
Areas of infrastructure in energy, transport and water have increased rates of dysfunction.
What actions should you take to avoid negative side effects of heat? The obvious thing is to just stay out of the heat as much as possible. This is becoming increasingly easy as people are generally staying inside in any case because of COVID-19. But when you do have to go out, it’s good to abide by some guidelines.
Avoid going outside during the peak heat of the day. Also, avoid any outside physical activities. Stay in the shade when possible, and obviously do not leave children or pets inside of parked vehicles.
Keep your inside space cool, especially if you have a baby or are over the age of 60. If you’re trying to conserve electricity, turn your air conditioners off at night and open all of your windows to keep cool.
You can also hang wet towels around your house to decrease the room temperature, although humidity will go up. Stay hydrated throughout the day by carrying a water bottle around with you at all times.
If you start to feel unwell, dizzy, thirsty or get headaches, move to a cooler area as soon as possible. Drink water or fruit juice to rehydrate and rest in bed until you feel better. As always, consult a doctor if symptoms worsen or don’t go away.