Cool tips for summer
Even as the mercury soars draining people to dehydration, heatstroke and other heat-related sicknesses, people in the UAE, especially expatriate workers, will still have to go on with their jobs even if that means putting themselves at risk. There are ways to conserve energy and replenish fluids in the body and stay cool.
Birds keep themselves cool at a fountain in Sharjah as the temperature goes up.— KT photo by M.Sajjad
Dr Mazhar Dalvi, registrar, Internal Medicine at Canadian Specialist Hospital, says that people can prevent exhaustion, dehydration or heatstroke in high temperature by being cautious on what to do, what to wear and what to take when they leave their residences.
He cautions heavy coffee drinkers, consuming three to five cups of coffee a day, to break this habit in summer. “Caffeine, which is in the coffee, will increase dehydration. So, coffee drinkers should refrain from drinking excessive coffee. One cup is enough.”
People regularly drinking alcoholic drinks need to slow down too. “Alcohol tends to also increase dehydration. Alcohol drinkers must be cautious about it during hot months to avoid falling ill.”
Labourers, he says, have to really take the midday break from 12.30pm to 3.30pm as imposed by the UAE government. Otherwise, working under such extremely hot conditions will definitely be dangerous to them. “It is necessary for labourers to take this break under the government policy to ensure their well-being.”
Loose clothing is recommended. Tight clothing will accumulate body heat just like dark clothes. Black absorbs heat, hence white dresses and clothing are the ones suitable for hot months. “Light colours dissipate heat, particularly white. Water is very important. All should always carry unlimited amount of water with them when they go out to avoid dehydration,” Dr Dalvi says.
Regular joggers can still go on with their exercises early morning or evening when the sun is not up to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.
A very practical way of cooling dwelling places without air-conditioning unit is recommended by Dr Ravi Kanth, specialist physician of Aster Medical Center. “Close your windows and curtains to keep inside temperature as cool as possible. When it is cooler outside in the evening, open your windows and curtains to be able to get cross ventilation and to reduce the heat. Keep electric fans on to help balance your body temperature.”
He says that it is a common mistake for people to make and keep handmade fans. It is not appropriate, for it consumes body energy and increases the core body temperature. “This should not be done. But, you can keep your body cooler by drinking extra water, at least ten glasses of water throughout 24 hours daily eventhough you are not thirsty.”
Good body hydration can be had by drinking fresh fruit juices like pineapple, oranges, apples and cucumber. “Juices from these fruits can help hydrate the body with natural water and vitamins.”
The best way to keep one’s body cool is to stay indoor and in cool places. “Do not go outside between 12.30pm and 3.30pm because the sun is at its peak and the heat is maximum,” Dr Kanth says.
Some Dos and Don'ts
DosWear loose-fitting, light-weight clothing which supports evaporation of sweat and avoids hyperthermia
Stay inside as much as possible. Minimise the heat and sun exposure. Take advantage of air-conditioning
Drink plenty of liquids like water, natural juices or sport drinks, to replace fluid lost from sweating. Even if you are not thirsty, drink at least three litres that work out to 10 to 12 glasses of water everyday during summer.
Avoid intense physical activity, especially in high temperature environments and under direct sun exposure
Try to rest as much as possible and get sufficient sleep at night
Eat salty meals in summer to replace salt lost in sweat, but avoid eating heavy meals
Don’tsUnderestimate the seriousness of heat-related emergencies, especially in children or the elderly
Give medications to reduce fever (i.e. aspirin); they may cause further harm
Give victims salt tablets
Overlook possible complications from other medical problems
Give victims liquids containing alcohol or caffeine — they interfere with the body’s ability to control temperature
Give the victim anything through mouth if heat stroke is suspected
(As recommended by Dr A. Nigam, MBBS, MD (Medicine), Senior Specialist, Internal Medicine, RAK Hospital)