Summer is for fun, sun, and relaxation. But in India, about 31,000 adults died between 2017 and 2021 because of extreme heat waves. Why? Because when high temperature and humidity mix, it makes for a sticky, sweaty recipe.
Let’s just say the sun, amused by our presence, tries to barbecue us. As we continue to experience longer and more intense heat waves, with temperatures rising up to 50 degrees Celsius in some areas, it becomes critical to protect yourself and beat the heat.
How does a heatwave impact you?
A heatwave is a period of days when abnormally high temperatures and high humidity persist. During this time, it’s very easy for your body to either dehydrate or overheat. When that happens, you are at risk of:
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat cramps
- Heatstroke: a serious condition that requires medical intervention as your body reaches temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is unable to regulate it. When left unchecked, it can damage organs permanently and even cause death.
Therefore, always be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of a heatwave affecting you.
- Intense thirst
- Painful spasms in the abdomen, leg, or arm muscles
If you experience any of these signs of heat exhaustion, immediately move to a cool area, rest, and drink either water or, better yet, an electrolyte-rich drink like fruit juice.
Heatwave tips: protecting your health during the summer months
There are 2 thumb rules to keep yourself and others healthy during a heatwave: keep cool and hydrate.
- Cool off
High temperatures rob your body of all energy. Because hot weather is tiring, the heatwave tip that you should always follow is to take time for R&R. Next, plan your day, so you’re not exposed to the sun during peak hours.
- Have cool showers.
- Submerge your feet in cool water.
- Use coolers or air conditioners.
- Use cool packs or wet towels on your neck and arms.
- Keep windows and curtains closed during the day and open them at night.
- Wear sandals or flip-flops to prevent sweaty feet. When that’s not possible, opt for sweat-wicking socks.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
During the summer, the body loses bucket loads of water through sweating. And that’s not it. It also depletes the body of minerals, leading to dehydration, which is where all heat-related health issues arise.
- So, drink up. Have plenty of water throughout the day.
- Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, and more if you’re spending time outdoors or exercising.
- You can also try drinking coconut water, which is a natural source of electrolytes.
- Add lemon or cucumber to your water for a refreshing twist.
- A few leaves of mint in water are another great choice. The menthol in them triggers a cold sensation that calms the mind.
- Steer clear of coffee, soda, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as they make dehydration worse.
Healthy eating habits for the summer
A simple way to stay healthy in the summer is to eat light meals in small portions and frequently. Heavy meals make you feel sluggish in the heat, so stick to lighter and cooler fare, such as salads, grilled veggies, and lean proteins.
- Don’t forget to stay away from processed and sugary foods, which can cause inflammation and make you feel bloated.
- Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that help keep you healthy and protect your skin from damage, go nuts with fruits. Make sure to include a rainbow of them in your diet: berries, melons, mangoes, and more.
Summer skincare tips: protect from sun damage
If you thought drinking enough water and keeping the body cool were the only heatwave tips you needed, think again. The sun can damage the skin, causing sunburn, premature ageing, dark spots, and even skin cancer. So, protecting it in the summer months becomes crucial.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply it 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, and pants.
- Avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible.
How do you stay active in a heatwave?
When the temperatures are soaring, staying fit is the last thing on your mind. But some physical activity is important for overall health and well-being. So, how do you sweat while staying cool?
- Exercise when the temperature is bearable: early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Be a water baby; go swimming.
- Don’t go for a walk outside; instead, work out in an air-conditioned room.
- Take a lot of breaks and hydrate.
Know if you’re at risk, and follow these heatwave tips
Young, healthy, old, or ill. Hot weather impacts everyone, but some people are more at risk. So, if you’re over 65, pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition like diabetes or heart disease, are obese, or work outdoors, take even more precautions to protect yourself from a heatwave.
Our recommendations for blistering hot days:
- Always know who to call in an emergency.
- If you have a medical condition or take specific medication, consult a doctor.
- Seek medical help if you feel unwell (having an app like QurBook helps tremendously here).