Heat wave survival guide straight from an expert

It is prudent to take all possible safety tips for heat wave to avoid dehydration, heatstroke or any other conditions.
cool down
Cool down with safed petha juice. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Radhika Bhirani Published: 20 May 2022, 17:00 pm IST
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The rising temperature across different parts of India becomes the hot topic every summer. Year 2022 has been no different with the temperature touching even 49 degree Celsius in Delhi-NCR! If the sun isn’t scorching, the hot winds plant a slap on the face for stepping out in the heat. But, personal and professional duties have to be attended to, after all! All we can do is be aware of safety tips for heat wave and take all preventive measures to survive the weather.

“Increased temperature in summer can have deleterious effects on human health. The summer season and high temperatures can lead to worsening of symptoms if a patient is already suffering from chronic health conditions as they are very vulnerable to even minor changes in the environment,” Dr Haroon, Consultant – Internal medicine, KMC Hospital, Mangalore, tells Health Shots.

Stay hydrated with plain water or infused water! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburns, and heatstroke are some of the common health issues one may encounter in the heatwave if proper care is not taken.

Who is at a higher risk of heat problems?

According to Dr Haroon, the following types of people need extra care and vigilance from being exposed to heat.

* Elderly people
* Infants and children
* Pregnant women
* Obese individuals
* Mentally challenged
* People with long-term chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, etc
* Sportspersons
* Outdoor workers such as construction workers

“In these individuals, it is of utmost importance to detect and treat the health issues and complications of high temperature early, otherwise it could sometimes lead to life-threatening consequences,” says Dr Haroon.

Also, read: Heat wave and pollution: Here’s how to deal with this double trouble

Older people may be more susceptible to problems arising due to heat. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What health issues can you can face due to excess heat?

When you step out in the heat, you will naturally be prone to excessive sweating. And if you lose more fluids than you actually take, it will eventually lead to dehydration, a state where your body does not have enough fluids to function properly.

Dehydration, along with increased body temperature, can lead to another dreaded complication of high environmental temperature, and that is heatstroke.

“The internal temperature crosses 104 degree Fahrenheit and can lead to shock, organ failure, brain damage, and if untreated, can lead to death.

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“It is very essential that we are aware of its symptoms and also all are acquainted with the primary care and first aid for this condition so that it can be detected and early treatment can be initiated,” adds the expert.

summer care
Make sure you cover your head with a hat and protect your eyes with sunglasses. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion?

* Vomiting
* Fast breathing
* High body temperature
* Excessive sweating
* Fast heartbeat
* Pain in the limbs
* Cramps
* Fatigue
* Altered consciousness
* Headache
* Dry skin
* Loss of consciousness
* Confusion
* Gait abnormalities (unsteadiness)

If any such symptoms are noticed, immediately alert an emergency helpline number, and call for an ambulance.

headache in summer
Excess exposure to heat can lead to headache! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, if someone close to you seems to be suffering a heatstroke, here are the tips you must follow:

1. Move the patient to a much cooler/shaded area where he/she is not directly exposed to sunlight
2. Loosen the clothes
3. Cool the body by applying cool towels (towels dipped in cold water)
4. If the person is alert and able to swallow, give them water to drink
5. If consciousness is altered and the person is unable to swallow, do not give anything by mouth
6. Move the patient to the emergency room of a hospital as soon as possible

Preventive measures and safety tips for heat wave

It’s the famous adage that prevention is better than cure, so here’s what you must do before stepping out in the heat.

* Consume a sufficient quantity of water. Around 3 liters per day or as recommended by your doctor, based on your other health conditions
* Avoid drinks containing caffeine, soda and alcohol. You could go for these desi superdrinks to stay cool.
* Have easily digestible meals, moderate in proportions. A low-fat diet is recommended
* Consume fruits and vegetables rich in water and fiber. Watermelon, muskmelon, tomatoes, green vegetables, and cucumbers are good choices
* Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-coloured clothes
* Try to stay indoors in a well-ventilated room, especially between 10 am to 4 pm when the outdoor temperatures are high
* Schedule your outdoor activities between 6 am to 10 am and 4 pm onwards when the temperature is not so high.

summer fruits
Summer is a great time for fruits! Make the most of it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

* The air conditioner should be serviced, maintained, and cleaned appropriately as per recommendation. It is advised to keep the room temperature less than 30 degree Celsius during the day and around 24 degree Celsius during the night
* Limit your outdoor activity, especially for people having chronic medical conditions.
* It is also worthwhile to get some rest during the day! Get adequate good quality sleep.
* In unavoidable situations where going outdoor is mandatory, make sure you use sunscreen, sunglasses with appropriate UV protection, wear a hat, and use an umbrella

Help others survive the heat

This is also the time when we need to show a lot of sympathy and compassion. Some professionals have to work in the hot sun, especially police personnel, construction workers, and road workers. As a society, it’s time to share and care, lessen their burden, make arrangements for clean drinking water and share for them.

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About the Author

Radhika Bhirani is a journalist with close to 15 years of experience in the Indian media industry. After writing extensively on health, lifestyle and entertainment, she leads the English content team at Health Shots. She has a special interest in writing on mental health and wellness. ...Read More

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