10 ways to beat the scorching heat

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 22 Feb, 2024 06:00 | 4 mins read
A man takes a sip of water. PHOTO/Pexels
A man takes a sip of water. PHOTO/Pexels

Recently, the country has been experiencing unusually warm weather, even in parts considered colder.

This can affect lives in different ways and the most vulnerable are younger and older people, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions. Here’s how to deal with it…

  1. Eat smart

When it’s hot, you are far better off sticking to light, well-balanced, regular meals. Large meals require the body to work harder breaking everything down. Avoid eating meat and protein-heavy foods during the heat of the day because these can increase metabolic heat production, which can add to loss of water.

Food with a high water content such as strawberries, cucumber, celery, and lettuce, will help to keep you hydrated and cool in hot weather.

You can also try foods with high fluid content such as soups and stews that contribute towards hydration levels. It may seem counter-intuitive, but eating spicy peppers may help cool you off. They make you sweat, which provides a cooling sensation.

  1. Limit alcohol intake

The sun is high, and so are many people’s spirits. And that can lead us to the pub. Unfortunately, mixing too much sun with a few too many drinks is not a good combination.

Alcohol causes dehydration, which can hit, especially hard if your body is already struggling to stay cool in hot weather.

Drinking alcohol can also make it harder to get a good night’s sleep, something that’s already difficult in warmer temperatures. While you may fall asleep quickly, you’re likely to have poor-quality sleep and wake up earlier than usual - not exactly the refreshing sleep you’ll need. So, try to drink in moderation.

  1. Limit physical activity to cooler parts of the day

It’s important not to disrupt your routine too much because of hot weather, but sometimes you may have to. An early morning run may feel punishing when you are sleepy, but it could be dangerous to exercise in the blazing midday sun and risk dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.

Take the temperature into consideration when planning your day and, if you can, limit physical activity to when it’s cooler. If you do decide to workout or play sport, make sure to drink a lot of water and take more breaks than usual to make sure you are not putting any extra stress on your body. You should also make sure you take a cold shower after exercising to cool down.

  1. Be sun smart

It’s best to avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day, but sometimes that can’t be avoided. When out in direct sunlight remember to: Wear (and regularly reapply) sunscreen.

Cover your head with a hat. Take regular breaks indoors or in a shady area to avoid getting heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

  1. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to take water

Water helps regulate your body temperature, allowing it to cool off when the environment gets warmer. Drink plenty of water before engaging in any activities. If you wait too late, you could experience cramps, which are a sign of heat-related illness.

Remind yourself to drink water frequently. Purchase a durable water bottle or water pack that you can tote everywhere and refill. Set reminders, daily targets, and even track when the last time you had a drink.
Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, as both of these substances can act as diuretics and promote dehydration.

  1. Wear cool

Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help to keep you cooler. If it is light in colour, it’s even better, as this will reflect the heat and sunlight better. Shorts and short-sleeved shirts are good choices. Something that lets the air flow freely through, hitting the sweat on your body, works best. Points to note: Cotton and linen clothing tends to keep you cool and absorb moisture.

Clothes you can hold up to the light and see through are great choices. Be sure to apply sunscreen when wearing really thin clothing, however, as the clothing doesn’t provide adequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Synthetic clothing tends to trap moisture, which makes the fabric feel heavier, stick to your skin, and restrict air-flow.

  1. Choose function over style

Wear fewer accessories during hotter weather. Metallic accessories can heat up considerably and less is always best when it comes to keeping cool.

Other clothing accessories can weigh clothing down, trapping in heat and moisture. If you have long hair, wear it up and off your face and body, allowing the breeze to flow along your neckline.

  1. Use fans

While the efficacy of fans during extreme heat and humidity has been debated, some research suggests fans are beneficial up to 97 °F (36 °C) with 80 per cent humidity, and 108 °F (42 °C) with nearly 50 per cent humidity.

Whether hand-held or electric, fans can keep you cool by continuously circulating air. In your home and office space, locate fans in rooms where you are working or resting to keep the air circulating freely and to reduce the mugginess of heat.

  1. Stay cool at night

Have a lukewarm or cool shower before bed to bring your body temperature down slowly. This will also help to cool down hot feet at night.

Make sure all electrical items are turned off and not in standby mode, as this still creates heat. Drink a glass of cold water before bed and keep one close during the night.

Sleep with a thin sheet rather than no cover at all to help regulate your body temperature. Choose loose-fitting clothing - tight clothes or pyjamas will trap warm air next to your body.

  1. Recognise the symptoms of heat-related illness

Everyone’s heat tolerance varies, but prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can begin to make you feel ill. Heat exhaustion is indicated by symptoms such as heavy sweating, weakness, and digestive issues. Retreating to a cool area, resting, and drinking plenty of fluids should help alleviate them.

Heat stroke is far more serious and is usually characterised by a body temperature over 103°F (over 39 degrees Celsius), skin that doesn’t produce sweat, rapid pulse, and confusion. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention.

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