Heatwaves will become more common in light of climate change, and we need to adapt to increasingly higher temperatures. With almost 40°C already forecast for this week, here are some tips on how to stay safe during this intense heat.
DO keep your windows and blinds closed during the day. It seems counter-intuitive, but this will help keep the heat out as much as possible. Open all your windows early in the morning or late at night to let fresh, cooler air inside.
DON’T go outside unless absolutely necessary. You don’t have to make the most of a ‘nice’ day by going outside in scorching heat. If you can, stay inside during most of the day - you can always get some fresh air when it has cooled down slightly in the evening. If you need to go outside, avoid the sun between 12 and 3 pm, wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, high SPF (also under your clothes), a hat, and sunglasses.
DO hydrate. Pretty obvious, but drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, even if you are not thirsty. DON’T drink too much coffee, alcohol, or sugary soft drinks, which dehydrate the body. The water in your food counts towards your overall hydration, so eat plenty of foods that contain a lot of water, such as melons, tomatoes, or cucumbers.
DON’T exercise. Unless you are in an airconditioned space exercising in this heat is simply dangerous and not worth it even if it interrupts your training. If you must exercise outside, do it very early in the morning or again late at night.
DO know the signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion. Some symptoms of heatstroke are nausea and/or vomiting, a high body temperature (40°C) without sweating, and feeling confused. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea and /or vomiting, excessive sweating, dizziness, and muscle cramps.
Heat exhaustion is less serious than a heatstroke, and you can try to cool a person down by moving them to a cooler place where they can lie down and elevate their feet, giving them water and trying to cool their skin with a fan or by putting cold packs around their necks and armpits. If the person does not start feeling better in half an hour or if symptoms worsen, seek medical help immediately.
DON’T cook (warm meals). You don’t want to add additional heat from an oven or stove to your home. Stick to cold meals such as salads, sandwiches, or wraps. If you prefer warm meals, you can try and pre-make dishes when it is not as warm and then simply heat them up later, preferably in a microwave, again to avoid creating additional heat.
DO go to air-conditioned public spaces. If your home gets unbearably hot and you don’t have an air-conditioned office to work in, go to a public library that is likely to be air-conditioned. If you have time to spare, other places such as museums or shopping centres can offer respite from the heat. If none of these is an option, you can try to cool down at home, by putting cool towels on your body (you can put moist towels in the freezer and take them out when needed), by taking a cold shower, or putting your feet in cold water.
DON’T leave pets or children in your car. In these temperatures leaving your pet or child in the car can be fatal, even if it is only for a short time and you leave a window open.
DO check up on older people. As we age, our bodies increasingly struggle to adapt to the heat, and therefore, older people have an increased risk for heat-related illnesses. Regularly check in during the day to see if they are drinking enough water and are still feeling well; if not, seek medical help. The Ministry of Health has set up a heatwave plan which includes home visits to people aged 75 or above living alone, more information can be found here https://www.vdl.lu/en/living/aid-and-assistance/seniors/heatwave-plan.