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Beat the Heat: Life-Saving Tips to Survive the Scorching Indian Heatwave!

Heatwave refers to a period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. Several regions of India experience heatwaves every year, which results in school closures and in extreme cases even death. Let us take a look at the effects of extremely hot temperatures on our bodies and ways to prevent heat stress during this time.

Aarushi Chadha
In the long run, prolonged exposure to sunlight increases the risk of developing skin cancer

High temperatures can lead to heat stress, a situation where our body is unable to cool itself down and causes excessive sweating which leads to loss of water and salt. This situation can cause excessive fatigue, and headache, and lead to confusion. Sweating too much during a heatwave can cause our pores to get blocked which leads to a breakout of tiny red bumps near our armpits, elbows, neck, groin, and under breasts.

Prolonged exposure to sunlight can lead to sunburn. Sunburn leads to painful, itchy, and reddish skin to the touch. In the long run, prolonged exposure to sunlight increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Fainting is extremely common during heatwave because heat causes dehydration, which makes it harder for our brains to get enough blood. This leads to dizziness and in extreme cases fainting.

Steps for Preventing Heat Stress Caused by Heatwave

  • Wear appropriate clothing- During peak summer, it is advised to wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and sombre-coloured clothes. Lightweight and loose-fitting clothes help with air circulation and do not trap heat in our bodies.

  • Limit your outdoor activities- During summer, it is best to schedule your outdoor activities carefully and limit them to an outing when it is relatively cooler in the day. For instance, during early morning and evening hours. When exercising or playing sports outdoors, take breaks in shady areas to give your body a chance to recover.

  • Try to stay indoors- Try to stay indoors in a well-ventilated room to prevent heat stress. Take a shower or bath to cool off. And install awnings, blinds, or light-coloured drapes and keep them closed to keep sunlight and heat out. Also, stay inside during the hottest part of the day, avoid strenuous activity, and limit time outside in the sun.

  • Stay hydrated- High temperatures promote sweating which leads to loss of fluids and electrolytes from our body. Not drinking water or other beverages to counteract that loss can lead to dehydration. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids but stay away from sugary beverages and alcoholic drinks. Alcohol, sugary drinks, energy drinks, and coffee can dehydrate you.

  • Wear sunscreen- Cover every bit of exposed skin with sunscreen and wear a cap if you have to be outdoors.

  • Eat small meals- Do not overeat. Eat small meals that are full of nutrients, and avoid empty carbs and foods with higher water content. We do recommend eating food frequently and not restricting yourself. Do not eat large protein-rich meals because they can increase metabolic heat and warm the body.

Ways to keep pets safe in the heat

The summer months can be tough for our beloved pet animals and stray animals as well. Practice these summer safety guidelines to keep your pets safe during the heatwave-

  • Limit exercise on hot days too early morning or evening hours, when it is a little cooler outside. Also, carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

  • Whenever your pet is outside, make sure they have ample protection from the heat along with plenty of fresh and cold water.

  • Watch for signs of heatstroke. For instance, heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, lethargy, and fever.

Effects of sun exposure on our skin

Direct sun exposure can lead to sun damage during summer. Sun exposure can make our skin look darker than usual due to increased production of melanin, can cause coloured patches or spots to appear on the face, can thin the skin on our face, increase the depth and number of wrinkles and fine lines, and decrease the elasticity of the skin. During this time, wearing face masks can help us cool down and provide much-needed protection from heat and direct exposure to sunlight.

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