Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Freeze it and stay cool!

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 7:00 AMErica Virtue
Keeping cool with water from a fire hydrant in downtown Kingston during the summer last year.

Jamaicans turn to frozen sheets and wet beds to beat the heat at nights.

With no respite from the sweltering heat that is blanketing sections of the island day and night, some Jamaicans are adopting extreme measures to cool down.

The Sunday Gleaner has found that among the measures being used to beat the heat, particularly at nights, is placing the sheet in a plastic bag and freezing it for at least an hour before bedtime.

One St Andrew mother, Audrey Higgins, said this works like a charm in her house.

"One of my church sisters recommended the idea to me. I tried it for myself and my husband before I tried it in the children's rooms," said Higgins.

"What we did initially is that we put the fitted sheets in the deep freeze in plastic bags. When we are ready to sleep, we spread the beds. By the time our bodies warm the sheets, we are already asleep," added Higgins.

She said that for the last three weeks, this method has allowed her children to fall asleep.

"We did it first to see if we would get ill, get a flu or something, but nothing happened, so we did it for the children. For them, we didn't keep the sheets long because, as adults, we may be able to fight off any illness, so we kept their sheets for half hour. And voila - they love it!" said Higgins as she pointed to her two sons and her daughter.

A few miles away, in another St Andrew community, one father said wetting his sheets with ice water is what allows his boys to fall asleep at nights.

Everton Allen said the heat is miserable and his boys are now down to wearing only underwears during the days.

"They have never eaten so much Popsicles or drank ice water and juice. Juice that they never use to drink, they are just helping themselves from the fridge; they just drink. As a result, they are not eating as much, but drinking so much more," said Allen.

He said the idea of "sprinkling the sheets with ice water" was one he came up with.

"I just thought that there has to be a way to make it better for them. You can't stay outside too long because mosquitoes are out in large numbers, so I just use some ice water and give the sheets a heavy sprinkle, and that is how the boys are able to sleep," said Allen.

"I swear by this method, it puts my children to sleep," added Allen.

pneumonia not an issue

With some persons expressing fear that the cold and the heat could make people develop pneumonia, consultant in emergency medicine at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) Dr Romayne Edwards, said this is not an issue.

"Pneumonia is due to some microbe that is either bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic. It is not due to exposure to cold air or the 'get wet in rain story' that has not been scientifically proven," said Edwards.

According to Edwards, while sleeping in wet garments or on wet sheets may be uncomfortable and is not recommended, there is no risk of pneumonia.

Edwards noted that sleeping on wet sheets could "cause the sinuses to drain plus trigger allergies, but it shouldn't cause pneumonia".

In addition, Edwards said the wet sheets could produce a cough and trigger runny nose.

She said to fight the heat, Jamaicans should drink as much fluid as they can.

"I cannot overemphasise hydration, hydration, hydration," stated Edwards.