Due to global warming, heat waves are becoming more intense and longer lasting. They become more intolerable in urban areas, where pollution, asphalt and a lack of green space make cities “heat islands” that encourage heat stress.
These high temperatures contribute to an increase in diseases directly related to rising temperatures, such as respiratory and heart problems or skin diseases related to excessive heat and sweating.
Given that this situation is unlikely to improve in the short-term (the latest forecasts from the World Meteorological Organization indicate that there is a 20% chance of global temperatures rising above the 1.5°C average threshold from 2024) , it is important to emphasize preventive measures.
Heat stress: how to fight it
Prevention measures that organizations such as the Red Cross and the Cigna health insurance company offer during these hot days: 1:
1.-Cigna highlights the effectiveness of early detection, since it is very important to know the symptoms caused by heat stress in order to identify them in time so that the situation does not become more complicated.
Some of the most common symptoms are rapid heartbeat, increase in body temperature, which can reach 42°C (107.6°F), severe tiredness, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea, general malaise, disorientation or confusion, convulsions, and cessation of sweating.
Among the preventative measures Cigna points out is the increase in green space, as trees offer myriad human and environmental benefits such as: B. the production of oxygen that helps regulate temperature and humidity, combating well-being and physical health, promoting outdoor living and making people more environmentally conscious.
2.- Adaptation of pace and workplace. One of the most important measures to minimize the risk of heat stress is workplace acclimatization, creating a cool, low-humidity space through good ventilation or by reducing the internal temperature.
In addition, if the work requires a lot of physical exertion, it is necessary to take frequent breaks, look for cool places to rest, wear comfortable, loose, light-colored clothes, adjust the pace of work to the heat tolerance of each employee.
3.- Monitor physical and mental exhaustion. In general, heat has a negative effect on the brain. It worsens function, causing a state of lethargy and constant fatigue due to the overwork of this organ to self-regulate body temperature.
The rest of the body is also slowed down in every reaction. Therefore, it is important to cover your head with a hat, scarf or hat to avoid exposure to direct sunlight, and to stay hydrated and drink water regularly to avoid heat stroke caused by high temperatures.
Experts recommend drinking a glass of cool water (12°C) every 15-20 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty, and in small amounts.
4.- Light and easily digestible meals. Cigna also reminds us that food is important at any time of the year, especially when the weather is hot.
In summer, it is very important to eat water-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits 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 good and healthy sleep is to sleep between 7 and 9 hours, which translates into better productivity and concentration and strengthens the immune system.
If the thermometer soars, it’s wise to use light sheets, avoid caffeine consumption and exercise in the hours before bed, or try a warm shower.
A good rest helps the brain function properly and not overwork.
6.- Organize your activities on the road, in the countryside… and in the face of heat stress, point out the importance of concentrating on outdoor activities in the first or last hours of the day and avoiding going out and strenuous activities during the to avoid the hottest hours.
If you must be outdoors: try to stay in the shade or away from the heat; wear recommended clothing, accessories (hat, sunglasses, etc.) and shoes for the heat; Before exposure (30 minutes before leaving the house), apply adequate sun protection to your skin (including lipstick) and renew it regularly. drink water regularly; eat lightly; Cool your head…
7.- They also remind you that when leaving a trip: do not leave children, elderly adults or animals in parked vehicles. Travel with air conditioning or open the windows.
Be wary of sudden temperature changes when getting in or out of the car. Drink plenty of fluids while driving.
8.- In case of health problems: Consult your doctor for additional measures if you suffer from an illness. Keep taking your medication. Don’t treat yourself.
The Red Cross also recommends keeping in touch (calls or visits) with those identified as most at risk to assess their specific situation and prevent serious effects of high temperatures.