Climate change is expected to result in an increase in the frequency and severity of heatwaves among other weather dangers.
Parts of South Africa have already noticed this surge during the past week. They have detrimental effects on a variety of sectors, including human health.
There is a normal hot South African summer day, and then there are heatwaves – a protracted period of extremely high temperatures constitutes.
It is interesting that there isn’t a single, accepted definition of “how high”. A region’s historical average temperature must be exceeded for the temperatures to qualify as a heatwave.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) studies on South African cities estimates that a heatwave lasts three or more days and generally is at least 10ºC above average temperatures.
When air is trapped, heatwaves occur that feel like the inside of an oven. A high-pressure system that pushes air downward is typically to blame.
About 196 heat-related disasters have been documented by the International Disaster Database.
Only eight of the 196 heat-related occurrences occurred on the African continent, and only one of those eight occurred in South Africa.
“Heat waves can be extremely deadly, just as other natural disasters. “The elderly, unwell, and young children are the groups most at risk for heat-related ailments.
“However, anyone can get sick from the heat if they overwork themselves or don’t take the warnings about high heat seriously,” said Russel Meiring, corporate communications officer at ER24.
Here are nine tips for surviving summer heat waves and remaining cool:
- Meiring suggests you drink lots of water to stay hydrated, “even if you’re not thirsty,” he added.
“You sweat in hot weather, so it’s important to replace the fluids you lose or you’ll become overheated.
“To prevent dehydration, have a water bottle nearby as you go about your day.”
- Limit your time spent outside in the sun and stay inside during the warmest hours of the day (10am to 4pm).
“Avoid physical exertion and put off outside games and festivities,” said Meiring.
- Wear sunscreen! Keep as much of your body out of the sunlight as you can when you’re outside. Carry an umbrella or wear a cap.
- Use drapes or blinds to block out direct sunlight and lower the temperature of your air conditioners.
If air conditioning isn’t accessible, remain indoors on the lowest floor in a room with fans that is well-ventilated. Close the curtains and drapes. If you don’t have air conditioners, you can swiftly cool your room by setting a tray or dish of ice in front of a fan.
- “Alcohol, sweet soda, coffee, energy drinks, and other caffeinated drinks should all be avoided since they dehydrate you”, says Meiring. You need the opposite during a heat wave.
- Eat frequently and in modest portions. Consume foods high in water content and foods with nutrition rather than empty carbs (fruits and vegetables).
- Put on light, airy, loose-fitting clothing in light colours and a breathable hat. Heat is trapped by tight garments.
- Check on elderly or vulnerable family members and acquaintances, especially if they appear to have lost their air conditioning.
“Call your doctor if you or someone you know is having problems with the heat (fast heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, headaches, muscle cramps, vomiting, or diarrhoea)”, said Meiring.
- Take a chilly sponge bath or shower or apply damp washcloths to your neck and wrists to reduce heat if you feel hot.
To lower your body temperature, carry a cold water bottle spray or cooling face mist with you and spritz cold water on your pressure points.
Photo by Kat Smith: https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-s-brown-vest-551568/
Article by: 9 tips for surviving Gauteng’s heatwave (iol.co.za)