I thought I'd do a short series on manmade and natural disasters along with some advice on what to do if you find yourself in them. First one of thirty seven (!!) is Heat.
We all know what its like to be stuck inside, outside or in the car and have someone exclaim "its too hot", but heat can be as deadly as it is uncomfortable. Extreme heat, which is when temperatures rise 10*C (50*F) or more above the average seasonal level, for a prolonged period of time. People deal with heat in a variety of ways and everyone handles it differently. The natural human response to heat is the biological reflex of perspiration, in which we sweat a mixture of salt and water in order to cool the skin. Whilst within the first few degrees above room temperature we don't sweat a lot, the surface area of our skin provides a rather efficient means of cooling. In extreme heat the high humidity hampers the evaporation process and makes it more difficult for us to cool ourselves, the body then ahs to work harder to keep within its normal temperature.
People who live in urban areas are more at risk to succumbing to heat because of the nature of how we build our urban areas. Concrete and asphalt, much like glass and stone store heat throughout the day, releasing it at night resulting in higher night-time temperatures. This is known as the 'Urban Island effect' and is why governments will often start handing out free bottles of water or fans during heat-waves to those who live or work in big cities.
People who live in the country do not have this problem, however being much more sparsely populated it can often have other implications should you need a replacement water supply or medical aid.
There are a few ways in which you can make yourself and your home more resilient against extremes of heat (or any temperature for that matter, but I will post other articles on those), such as:
- Install air-con.
If air-con is already in use, ensure it is well maintained.
Create and place temperature reflectors between curtains and windows to reflect the heat back outside. (These can be as simple as aluminium-foil covered boards).
If you have a loft, ensure that it is insulated. (This sounds counter-intuitive but just like lagging keeps hot water pipes hot, it can keep cold water pipes cold, the same heat-containment principles apply.)
Attach weather-strips (or draft excluders) to doors and window sills to keep cool air in.
Cover up windows that are exposed to direct sunlight during the early morning and late afternoon.
Awnings or covered-porches can reduce the amount of heat that enters the building by as much as 80%.
Reflective laminate over windows which receive the sun all day can provide light whilst reflecting the heat back out.
When temperatures do rise there are again a number of things you can do to mitigate the impact upon you and those around you:
- Try to stay in shelter (or at least shadow) as much as you can.
If your building does not have air-con, remain on the lower floors as it will be much cooler there.
Use fans to keep cool air circulating and ensure that any ceiling fans blow cool air downward (the temptation is to use them to suck hot air upward, however once the air is at ceiling level its then forced back down the walls by the force of more air being sucked in behind it, which can raise temperatures).
Slow down, rushing or stressing out is going to raise your core temperature resulting in sweating, which in turn means a loss in fluids. The human body cannot function effectively in high temperatures and high humidity.
Eat less, digesting food requires water that your body will require for cooling, avoid foods that are rich in proteins. Well-balanced, smaller, regular meals are best.
Limit your alcohol intake, processing alcohol requires more water than you gain from the rest of the drink and can dehydrate you.
Put sun lotion on even if you’re not planning on going into direct sunlight, getting sun-burn, even from reflected light hampers your ability to cool properly.
And finally the most obvious: DRINK plenty of water, even when you're not thirsty.
The main problems with heat, and especially extreme heat are of increased body temperature, leading to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Recovery from these can take at least 24 hours and requires rest and re-hydration. Re-hydration sachets can be purchased online and in some outdoor stores, and consists of a mixture of electrolytes, usually a flavouring, and trace elements of salt and other minerals. When re-hydrating after a period of intense dehydration it is essential that you drink in short, slow, sips. Gulping down water will make you vomit losing more precious water.
Here is the pdf download link: Link