How to stay safe during a heat wave

How to stay safe during a heat wave

The sun will rise at 5:31am and set at 7:45pm, totaling around 14 hours and 15 minutes of daylight. Nighttime will only last 9 hours, Khattab, told Al-Ghad news. (Photo: Unsplash)
(Photo: Jordan News)

AMMAN — During the summer, Jordan is known for its relenting heat, with July being on average the hottest month of the year. For the most part, the weather may not be too hot, but every few days there can be unbearable heat. These are called heat waves.

According to the Ministry of Health, the number of heat waves across Jordan has steadily increased since 1981 as climate change has affected the globe.

اضافة اعلان

Number of Heat Waves in all Regions of Jordan during the Period 1981-2010 (Photo: handout)

Other than the heat being uncomfortable, there may be serious health implications as well, primarily heatstroke.

Heatstroke, according to the Mayo Clinic, is defined as a condition in which your body overheats due to physical exertion in or prolonged exposure to high temperature. The most serious form of heatstroke occurs when your body temperature increases to 40°C.

The ministry reported Amman having as high as 140 cases of heatstroke in 2008 and went on to state that the most vulnerable people were children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, and pregnant women.

Symptoms of heatstroke include

  • Body temperature of 40°C
  • Altered mental state (e.g., confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, etc.)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Coma, seizures, and even death in serious cases

Preventing heatstroke

From a health perspective, there are many ways to prevent heatstroke since heat waves are predictable. Some things you can do to prevent heatstroke may seem like common sense, such as drinking plenty of water, wearing loose fitting and light weight clothing, and avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day. But, there may be other things to take into consideration when trying to prevent against heatstroke that may not be as obvious.

There are certain diseases and medications that can make you more susceptible to heatstroke. People with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, or even viral and bacterial infections may have an increase in body temperature and in combination with heat can be at high risk for heatstroke. Furthermore, certain drugs such as antibiotics, medication that treats high blood pressure and seizures, and even certain vaccines such as diphtheria, tetanus & acellular pertussis (DTaP) or pneumococcal vaccines can increase body temperature.

How to stay cool at home

Staying cool during these hot summer days is the most important and effective way to prevent heatstroke. Air conditioning units (AC) are simple and often come with a remote to control climate settings. The biggest drawback to AC units are their prices, typically costing around JD300, as well as monthly electric cost and maintenance when need be.

Alternatively, and more commonly used, are fans. They work by circulating air and removing heat from the surface of your skin. Even though they may cost less to purchase and operate, fans are typically inferior to AC units since they do not physically cool the room. Fortunately, there are tips on optimizing your fan. The most important goal for optimizing your fan is reducing drag and other friction. This means cleaning dust out of the fan regularly, tightening any loose parts and oiling moving parts.

There are other methods that do not involve the use of fans or AC to cool your house, including:

  • Limiting stove use during the day
  • Unplugging devices and appliances that are not in use
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs
  • Turning on bathroom vents

Furthermore, there are routines that can be performed around the house to maintain a cool climate during the day. Start by opening the windows in the evening to expel warm air and allow cool air to enter. The following morning, close the windows to trap the cool air inside and close the curtains or shades on your window. Although natural light is nice, having too much sunlight entering your house can drastically increase the temperature.
Above all else, remember to drink lots of water and stay out of the sun for extended periods of time to avoid sun stroke during the heat waves.

Read more Health