Melbourne and many other parts of Australia has been experiencing another stream of hot Summer Days. Add humidity to the equation and many of us are feeling hot, tired and drained. Having said that, I for one am not complaining: I enjoy the hot weather and prefer it to our cold Winters!
However, every summer we need to remind ourselves of sensible and appropriate routines to handle the heat in the best possible way.
Alarmingly, we continue to hear stories of children or pets left in cars on hot days. This is hard to fathom, and yet it keeps happening! Is there a language barrier that prevents some people from understanding the warnings? Perhaps we need to set a blanket standard whereby children and pets are not taken in cars in heat wave conditions.
The real message here is that whilst many of us look forward to the summer sun, the heat can be dangerous and we need to take care of ourselves and those around us.
To look after ourselves in the hot weather we need to understand how the heat affects our bodily functions. Dehydration can lead to increases in temperature and heart rate and can also impair concentration and general performance. This can be difficult to understand and might push one to work a little harder to achieve the normal level of performance or functioning. This in its own right can make dehydration happen more quickly exacerbating the problem. Hence, we should not expect ourselves to perform arduous exercise or activities, but rather opt for taking it easy and staying protected from the sun’s rays and stay as cool as possible. This is a basic yet essential example of making sensible decisions about the expectations we put on ourselves and others.
Here are some basic tips to help people to manage in extremely hot weather:
1. The first is to remain hydrated.
This almost seems as if it should go without saying, however hydration is so important that we can never be reminded too much. In really hot conditions make sure you always have an extra water bottle with you and fill it with ice blocks to keep the water cold and refreshing. If you are at home try putting a water bottle in every room of your house. That way you will be reminded to drink water whenever you see a water bottle.
2. Protect yourself from the sun.
On hot days make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen and take extra sunscreen with you to refresh your cover. Also wear protective clothing – a light shirt with long sleeves is ideal and of course don’t forget your hat and sunglasses.
3. Take things a little more easy than usual.
The really hot weather will sap your energy more quickly than usual, so avoid pushing yourself physically as this will only make you perspire more rapidly and dehydrate more quickly. Dehydration can lead to vomiting and diarrhea which worsens the problem – so be sensible in the hot weather and don’t overdo things.
4. Be extra vigilant with young children, keeping their fluids up and keeping them indoors when the weather is extremely hot.
5. Also be vigilant with pets – ensuring they have several containers of cool fresh drinking water and somewhere shaded and cool to relax – preferably indoors in extreme heat.
6. Keep a check on the elderly – making sure they remain hydrated and cool.
7. Whilst air-conditioning is great, avoid having it too cold as this can cause colds, chills and other health issues. Supplement the air-conditioning with fans to create a pleasant and soothing breeze.
Summer is my favourite time of year and we can enjoy this time of ‘fun in the sun’ with a few simple strategies to manage the heat waves.