Tips to protect yourself from heat and heat stress
Due to global warming, heat waves are becoming increasingly intense and long-lasting. They are becoming more unbearable in urban areas, where pollution, asphalt, and a shortage of green regions turn cities into “heat islands” that favor heat stress.
These high temperatures contribute to an increase in pathologies directly related to rising temperatures, such as respiratory and cardiac problems or skin diseases related to excessive heat and sweating.
Given that this situation is not likely to improve in the short term (the latest predictions of the World Meteorological Organization revealed that there is a 20% chance that from 2024 onwards, global temperatures will rise above the 1.5°C thresholds on average), it is essential to emphasize preventive measures.
Heat stress: how to combat it
Preventive measures offered by organizations such as the Red Cross and the health insurer Cigna during these days of heat wave: 1:
1.-Cigna underlines the effectiveness of early detection because it is very important to know the symptoms produced by heat stress to detect it in time so that the situation does not become more complicated.
Some of the most common symptoms are the acceleration of the cardiac pulse, the elevation of the body temperature that can reach up to 42º C (107.6° F), intense fatigue, dizziness or dizziness, nausea, general malaise, disorientation or confusion, cramps, and interruption of sweating.
Among the preventive measures pointed out by Cigna are the expansion of green spaces because trees provide countless benefits for people and the environment, for example, the generation of oxygen that helps regulate temperature and humidity, the fight against pollution, the improvement of emotional well-being and physical health, the promotion of outdoor life and greater environmental awareness in people.
2.- Adapting the pace and the workplace. One of the main measures to minimize the risk of heat stress is to acclimatize the workplace, creating a cool space with low humidity levels through good ventilation or by reducing the indoor temperature.
Also, if the work requires a lot of physical effort, it is necessary to establish frequent breaks, look for cool places to rest, wear comfortable, loose, light-colored clothing, and adapt the pace of work to each employee’s tolerance to heat.
3.- Monitor physical and mental exhaustion. In general, heat negatively affects the brain. It makes it work worse, causing a state of lethargy and constant fatigue due to the overexertion of this organ to self-regulate body temperature.
The rest of the body is also slowed down in any response. Therefore, covering the head with a hat, scarf, or cap to avoid direct exposure to the sun and keeping properly hydrated and drinking water frequently is essential to prevent heat stroke caused by high temperatures.
Experts recommend drinking a glass of cool water (12ºC) every 15-20 minutes, even if you are not thirsty, and in small quantities.
4.- Light and easy-to-digest meals. Cigna also reminds us that food is essential at any time of the year, especially in sweltering weather.
In the case of summer, it is very important to eat foods rich in water, such as vegetables and fruit, as they are nutritious, healthy, and refreshing.
It is recommended to reduce the consumption of alcoholic and sugary drinks, as they provide empty nutrients and contribute to dehydration of the body.
Red Cross infographic
5.- Sleep well to live better. The ideal for quality and healthy sleep is to sleep between 7 and 9 hours, which translates into better productivity and concentration and improves the immune system.
When the thermometer soars, it is advisable to use light sheets, avoid caffeine consumption and physical exercise in the hours before sleep or try a warm shower.
A good rest helps the brain to function properly and not to work excessively.
6.- Organize your activities in the street, the countryside… and in the face of heat stress refer to the importance of centralizing outdoor activities during the first or last hours of the day and avoiding going out and performing strenuous activities during the hottest hours.
If you have to stay outdoors: try to stay in the shade or away from the heat; wear the recommended clothing, accessories (hat, sunglasses, etc.), and footwear for the heat; apply adequate sun protection to your skin (including lipstick) before exposure (30 minutes before leaving home) and renew it regularly; drink water regularly; eat lightly; cool your head…
7.- They also remind that when leaving on a trip: Do not leave children, older adults, or animals in parked vehicles. Travel with the air conditioning or open the windows.
Be careful with sudden temperature changes when entering or leaving the car. Hydrate yourself abundantly during the trip.
8.- In case of health problems: Consult with your doctor about additional measures to be taken if you suffer from any disease. Continue taking your medications. Do not self-medicate.
Red Cross also advises keeping in touch with the people considered most vulnerable (calls or visits) to assess their specific situation and prevent severe effects of high temperatures.