Staying cool and safe in the heat may be challenging over the next few days, especially after the intense heatwave Egypt witnessed recently. Such extreme heat is not something we are used to, and the humidity that went with it is the last thing one wishes to see in any future weather forecast.
Human and animal bodies are placed under additional strain in hot weather. The chances of dehydration are increased, in addition to the risk of triggering serious conditions like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses.
So, it’s vital that we all know how to cool down effectively to avoid such heat-related conditions. Here are some tips to help you beat the next heatwave and make life in a hot and humid climate more bearable.
Stay cool: The best way to stay cool is to stay at home as much as you can. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day from 11 am to 4 pm if possible.
Seek shade: When it’s sweltering outside, going to swim in a pool or at a beach can be refreshing provided that you stay safely in the shade. If you go outside, wear sunglasses and a hat and make sure you apply a sunscreen with high SPF and good UVA protection.
Find respite: Opt to spend some time in air-conditioned places like restaurants, malls, or cinemas if you want to spend some time outside. This will help you to cool down after being outside in the hot weather.
Use a hand-held fan: This can help to make you feel more comfortable with minimal effort.
Dress for the weather: Avoid dark colours and wear light colours and loose-fitting lightweight clothing. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are the best choice as they allow the air to circulate and make you feel cooler.
Take a shower: Fill a bucket or basin with cold water and soak your feet in it to keep cool. Wet towels and bandannas can also have a cooling effect when worn on the head or shoulders. Take cool showers and consider using a spray bottle filled with cold water for refreshing spritzes throughout the day.
Alternatives to air-conditioning: If you don’t have air-conditioning, use box fans and ceiling fans to move air through your home. You can put a bucket of ice in a shallow pan and place it in front of a fan to blow cold air in your direction. Open windows and doors in the evening and put the fans in front of them to push air through the house. Close shutters when the sun rises in the morning to block out the sun and keep cooler air in.
Cool at home: Use light-coloured bed linens made of lightweight cotton at night as they are breathable and excellent for promoting ventilation and airflow in the bedroom. Stay away from the stove if possible and consider using your microwave or grill instead to cook and prepare food.
Pamper your pulses: To chill out super-fast, apply ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, ankles and behind the knees.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water or diluted fruit juice throughout the day, as this will help you to avoid headaches, nausea, and dizziness as a result of the heat. Eat ice to cool yourself down or even spoil yourself with ice-cream. Avoid caffeine, as it can make you feel hotter and dehydrate you.
Eat right: Eat small, fresh meals such as salads and fruit. Avoid spicy and high-protein foods, as these can increase your metabolic rate and warm your body. Skip fatty and fried food and heavy meals and opt for water-rich foods instead that include cucumbers, watermelon, celery and lettuce. Make sure you take in enough salt because we lose a lot of salt when sweating.
Remember pets: Pets also suffer when the temperature rises. Cooling animals like dogs or cats by giving them a cool bath or shower will help keep their body temperatures down. A cool towel set out on a tile will also help your pet keep cool when it lies on it. Make sure your pets have plenty of cool water to drink as well.
A version of this article appears in print in the 23 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.