Temperatures are soaring in Gauteng and the weather service has warned of a heatwave this week. On Tuesday the mercury reached 36 degrees in some areas of the province.
During periods of extreme heat, said Medicare24 managing director Mike van Wyk, personal wellness is critical. That, along with being aware of possible heat stroke symptoms, and taking preventative measures to avoid same, equally as important during a heatwave.
Van Wyk said that it is essential that people consume as much water as possible and remain hydrated. He said: “And that does not mean fizzy drinks or beverages that contain caffeine. It means still water”.
He added that carbonated water may quench a thirst, but the bubbles tend to fill you up before your thirst is sated and further noted that it is better to ensure that you consume at least two litres of water daily rather than drinking too little fluid. It is a heatwave, after all.
He added: “Ensure that pets and children have access to enough water too, and do not leave any child or animal in the car, not even when you pop into the shop for five minutes. It can be deadly.”
He noted some of the symptoms of dehydration and heatstroke during a heatwave. He said: “Headaches, a dry mouth, fatigue and even physical paleness can all be signs. Fevers are also not uncommon and medical attention should be sought immediately”.
Heat, van Wyk said, also causes sugar levels to drop and a quick remedy would be to snack on a chocolate or something sweet. It can make people lethargic as glucose levels drop.
Keeping your body cool is essential, he pointed out. Van Wyk said: “Wear loose, comfortable clothing that can breathe, and preferably keep to natural fabrics. The less you sweat, the less water you lose, the more you remain hydrated”.
He also said that open shoes or footwear that is aerated not only prevents accelerated growth of fungi, but also helps keep the body cool. The same applies for other overly tight or body-hugging garments. Underwear should also be loose and constructed of natural fabric.
When working out in public areas like gyms, Van Wyk warns, wear flops when showering or making contact with any surface where fungal infections can be picked up. Heat propagates fungal growth.
Van Wyk suggests taking a warm shower to regulate body heat, as cold showers cool the body down and does not have a stabilising impact physiologically.
Then, there are the precautionary measures everyone should be taking during this period of heatwave discomfort. Van Wyk suggested that sunglasses be worn at all times when exposed to sunlight, particularly for people with lighter coloured and ergo more sensitive eyes. He added: “A subblock of no less than SPF 50, which means applying the lotion every fifty minutes, should be used generously on all areas exposed to the sun”.
Wearing of hats and protective clothing while outdoors goes without saying, he added.
When indoors, ensure the room has open windows and air is circulating. That is, said van Wyk, if the building does not have air conditioning or, of course, if another Eskom blackout prevents its operation.