In most parts of America and Europe now, people are experiencing severe heat waves, with the attendant implications for health if people don’t know what to do to stay healthy in the extreme weather.
The Centre for Disease Control notes that heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, but, despite this, each year in the United States, for instance, an average of about 658 people still die of extreme heat.
The CDC explains that heat-related illness, also called hyperthermia, is a condition resulting from exposure to extreme heat where the body becomes unable to properly cool, resulting in a rapid rise in body temperature.
This is summer period, and many Nigerians may find themselves in these hot spots as they vacate overseas.
The following are ways to stay healthy overseas if you happen to vacate in environs experiencing heat waves:
- Ensure that you and everyone travelling with you have health insurance for use in your country of vacation—it doesn’t matter if you don’t get to use it eventually, but it’s advisable to have one, just in case.
- Wear loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing, as dark colours absorb heat, while tight or thick cloth can seal in sweat and generate heat.
- Take cool showers or baths if you feel unduly hot.
- Use air conditioning when sleeping, as you may be unaware of bodily dehydration at such times. Air conditioning will prevent sweating that may result in dehydration.
- Stay dehydrated by sipping water at regular intervals, instead of drinking water only when you are thirsty.
- To avoid heat stroke, cramps or exhaustion, avoid spending extended time in the sun.
- Recognise symptoms of heat waves, which include muscle cramping, fatigue, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, and confusion. Once you start experiencing any of these, take some water and ask to be seen by a physician immediately.
- Drink alcoholic beverages or caffeinated coffee in moderation — if you can’t avoid taking them. This is because both caffeine and alcohol cause the body to lose water rapidly, and the situation is worse in extreme temperatures such as experienced in heat waves.
- Seeing a physician is necessary when the body’s ability to cool itself stops working, body temperatures can rise to the point of causing brain damage and death.
- Don’t leave your children or any other vulnerable member of the family, such as aged or physically challenged person inside the vehicle; as a hot vehicle can reach 120 degrees (Fahrenheit) within minutes.
- Do not take salt tablets unless under medical supervision.
- Always go out with covering for heads and faces from the sun. You can use hat or an umbrella.