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Coping with the summer heat

Published:Tuesday | August 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM

If you do not take the proper precautions, summer heat can be dangerous. In fact, it can even be deadly. And with temperatures getting even hotter than normal, it is very important that measures are taken to minimise the effects of excess heat.

In that regard, the Ministry of Health is urging persons to take precautionary measures to reduce exposure to heat, which will limit the serious effects it can have on the body.

The most common heat related illnesses are heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat cramps, and the most severe illness, heat stroke. In fact, globally, each year thousands of persons die from heat stroke, so it is important not to take the warning signs lightly.

Signs associated with a heat stroke include:

- A very high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit).

- Hot and dry skin.

- A throbbing headache and dizziness.

If any of these signs are noted, seek medical assistance immediately while finding ways to cool down the body. These include:

- Coming out of the heat and finding a cool environment.

- Drinking cool liquid.

- Sponging down with cold water.

- Wrapping in a wet, cold sheet.

- Standing under a fan or air-conditioning unit.




Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De La Haye further shared that some persons are at greater risk of being affected by heat.

"This includes infants and children who are four years old and under, persons who are overweight, those with medical conditions and elderly persons," he said.




There are several things persons can do to keep cool and help prevent heat-related conditions.

These include:

- Keeping properly hydrated, by ensuring you consume adequate daily supply of water and water-dense fruits and vegetables.

- Drinking more fluids, particularly those that are not sweet and do not contain alcohol when the times are hotter

- Drinking more water before, during and after vigorous activities. This is especially if your occupation is outdoors and requires excessive exertion. Also, if you are exercising and if you are sweating heavily.

- Schedule exercise sessions for early mornings or evenings when the time is cooler.

- If you are exposed to heat for long periods, being outdoors especially for most of the day, ensure that you drink more water. Walk with a water bottle if necessary, and sip on it often.

- Limit outdoor activities to mornings and evenings when the times are cooler. And when outdoors during the height of the heat, seek out shading as much as possible.

- Ensure that during the summer, you wear light-weight, light-coloured, loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.

- When sleeping, dress as lightly as possible, preferably cotton material; and keep the room cool. Sometimes you may awake thirsty and hot, so keep a glass of water nearby.

- Supervise children during outdoor play to ensure they are being properly hydrated and not exposed to prolonged, excessive heat.

- If possible, keep windows open to ensure proper air circulation in the home and to keep it cool

- Remember that young children and the elderly are more prone to heat-related conditions, so pay special attention to their needs and always closely monitor them during hotter periods.