With the heat wave taking over the country, it is important to take essential precautionary measures to avoid harmful effects of this heat. There are several different ways in which our bodies are affected by heat and there are a number of ways to avoid or minimize these effects as well.
Prolonged exposure to the sun or lack of fluids can cause your body to dangerously overheat. The signs of heatstroke include a rapid pulse, headache and dizziness. The skin will be hot to the touch, red and flushed.
If you are exposed to too much heat, your body works hard to keep your temperature constant. This can lead to you feeling generally unwell, lacking in energy and feeling dizzy or sick. Heatstroke happens when your body's normal mechanisms for regulating your temperature break down, and your temperature rises to more than 40°C.
Heatstroke and sunburn are predictable and preventable. Take these steps to prevent these during this hot summer:
If you must leave your residence on a day when there is a heat alert, try to avoid going out between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which are generally the hottest hours of the day. Do all you can to postpone any outdoor errands or meetings that can wait for a few days until the heat alert is no longer in effect or try and do them early morning or evening .
Fire-fighters, contractors, miners, farmers, labourers, to name a few, are highly susceptible to heat-related illness when the temperature climbs. If you work in hot environment, whether indoors or out, the key to avoiding heat-related illness is to follow the general guidelines – gradually build up your tolerance to heat over 5-7 days, take breaks in the shade or air-conditioning, use fans when possible, avoid during the hottest parts of the day.
What’s the best way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays (UVR), given that we need to work, travel, and sometimes play outside? Clothing is the most basic and generally the best means of sun protection. Not all clothing is equal, however, and some of it isn’t actually very good at protecting us.
The more skin you cover, the better. A long-sleeved shirt covers more skin than a T-shirt, especially if it has a high neckline or collar that shields the back of the neck; long pants cover more skin than shorts. The tighter the knit or weave, the smaller the holes and the less UV can get through. Twill, used to make tweeds or denim, is an example of a tightly woven fabric. Open weave fabrics provide much less protection.
Darker colours tend to absorb more UV than lighter colours, including whites and pastels, but bright colours such as red can also substantially absorb UV rays.so stick to lighter colours. Also wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won't allow your body to cool properly.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause both short-term eye problems and permanent eye damage. Short-term problems include excessive blinking, swelling and difficulty looking at strong light. UV exposure can also cause acute photo keratopathy, which is sunburn of the cornea, like snow blindness or welders’ flash burns. Choose the right sunglasses: Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective, but some cheaper fashion sunglasses don’t provide good sun protection. Look for sunglasses that protect you from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. This includes those labelled as "UV 400," which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers
Cover your head: Combining sunglasses and a sun-safe hat or an umbrella can reduce UV radiation from reaching your eyes by up to 98%. Even without sunglasses, a well-designed hat can substantially reduce the amount of UV radiation reaching your eyes, while also protecting their face, neck, ears and head.
The most important thing you can do to avoid heat stroke is to drink more water than you usually do because you are losing fluids through sweat. Drink two to four cups of water every hour when you are outside or exercising. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start drinking water. . Because heat-related illness also can result from salt depletion, it may be advisable to substitute an electrolyte-rich sports drink for water during periods of extreme heat and humidity.
By then, you are already becoming dehydrated and putting yourself at risk of heat stroke. Also, make sure that your children and others at a higher risk of heat stroke are drinking enough water throughout the day.
Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. This will ensure that you are blocking at least 93 percent of UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and 50 blocks 98 percent.
A sunscreen’s SPF rating indicates the level of protection provided against UVR. It’s the ratio of the UVR dose someone would receive without sunscreen to that received with a carefully applied sunscreen.
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside and again every two hours.Use a generous amount of sunscreen – the average adult needs 35ml for one full body application, which is the equivalent of more than half a teaspoon to each arm and the face, and just over one teaspoon to each leg, the front of the body and the back.
Understanding one's environment is perhaps the most important step in preventing heat-related illness. If possible, strenuous activities should not be performed in excessively hot or humid environments. However, people often have to work in the heat of the day, or indoors in hot situations and need to make the effort to protect their bodies. These can include frequent breaks taken in a cooler areas and slowing the pace of work to decrease heat generated by the body. And gradually build up to heavy work in hot conditions.Allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work and for workers who have been away from work for a week or more.
This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.
It's not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. When your car is parked, keep it locked to prevent a child from getting inside.
Infants and children up to age 4, and adults over age 65, are particularly vulnerable because they adjust to heat more slowly than other people.
Your ability to cope with extreme heat depends on the strength of your central nervous system. In the very young, the central nervous system is not fully developed, and in adults over 65, the central nervous system begins to deteriorate, which makes your body less able to cope with changes in body temperature. Both age groups usually have difficulty remaining hydrated, which also increases risk.
It’s important to prevent dehydration by avoiding the consumption of sugar, sweetened drinks, alcohol and caffeine All of these dehydrating beverages cause increased urination and electrolyte loss. Plus, consuming too much sugar can lead to inflammation. This makes the symptoms of heat stroke even worse. Although sports drinks are marketed to keep you hydrated during physical activity, many of these products contain a ton of added sugars and synthetic flavourings. So, opt for natural electrolytes instead.