O.M.G. It’s been crazy melting, scorching hot and humid these past few weeks; and forecasters are promising us continued high temperatures in many parts of Malaysia until the end of April.
Keeping cool is critical during this period as continued high temperatures can make us sick, increasing the risk of heatstroke, exhaustion and dehydration. In particular, very hot weather can also cause heart and respiratory problems. And while infants and children; pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers; 65-year-olds and older and sick people are most at risk, over-heating can also affect healthy young people if we’re not careful!
Here’s how you can try to stay cool and comfortable during this period:
1Drink plenty of water.
Important fact: The human body is made up of nearly 60 per cent water. So it’s super important to ensure we are well hydrated. Drinking water helps lower our body temperature and replaces the fluid we lose through sweating. Drink plenty of water – at least 8 glasses a day – of boiled water, mineral water, or juice to help refresh the body. Drink water before you feel thirsty to reduce the risk of dehydration. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as it can lead to dehydration.
2Eat lotsa vegetables and fruits.
Filling our tummy with vegetables and fruits that have high water content such as cucumber and watermelon will help keep us hydrated. Fresh fruit salads are highly recommended. This will help maintain our body temperature. Remember to cut back (or better still avoid) oily, high-protein foods that can increase your body’s metabolic heat.
3Dress cool and light.
Wear light and loose clothing made of natural materials such as cotton and linen as this allows good airflow, which helps sweat evaporate. Avoid thick or tight clothing as well as dark colours as these absorb heat. If outdoor activity is inevitable, wear a hat or umbrella and anti-glare sunglasses.
4Protect your skin with SPF.
Use sunscreen SPF 15 or higher and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember, SPF will protect ultraviolet (UV) sunshine but not from heat. Sunscreen and repellent insect can be used safely. Use SPF first, and after the insect repellant.
5Cool the body.
Take advantage of the power of cooling water. Fill a bucket or basin and soak your feet for a few minutes. Wet towels and bandanas may also have a cooling effect when worn on the shoulders or head. In addition, you can use spray bottles filled with water (such as spritzers) to refresh throughout the day. Remember, COOL showers or baths will help you to cool down.
6Cool down your home.
We can reduce the heat load inside our home by closing windows and shutters (if available) especially those facing the sun during the day. Also a good idea to use curtains and shades on windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. Turn off artificial lighting and as many electrical devices as possible. Hang wet towels to cool down the room air. Electric fans may provide relief, but when the temperature is above 35°C, it may not prevent heat related illness. It’s important to drink fluids.
7Keep out of the heat.
Move to the coolest room in the home, especially at night. If it is not possible to keep your home cool, spend 2–3 hours of the day in a cool place (such as an airconditioned shopping mall). Avoid going outside during the hottest time of the day. Avoid strenuous physical activity if you can. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day. Remember: Stay in the shade.
8Beware the parked car.
Do not sit in a stationary car, even with a lowered window. And DO NOT leave children or pets in a parked vehicle, even for a moment. The temperature in the car can be multiplied compared to the outdoor air temperature in just a few minutes.
Finally: Don’t forget to check on family, friends, and neighbours who spend much of their time alone. Vulnerable people might need assistance on hot days.