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How To Beat The Summer Heat In SA

How To Beat The Summer Heat In SA

The summer heat in South Africa is intense, but there are ways to stay cool! There is always the risk of sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke in scorching temperatures. Remember to stay indoors or under cover as much as possible and take precautions when going out.

When Is The Hottest Time Of The Day?

There are good and bad times to be out in the sun. Most people believe the summer heat peaks between 1 and 2 pm each day, but that’s not the case! In summer, the heat peaks between 4 pm and 6 pm. But why is this? 

Between 1 pm and 4 pm, when the sun’s radiation is at its peak, the ground, the walls of buildings or objects store this heat and then release some of it back into the atmosphere in the form of infrared radiation. 

Greenhouse gases, the gaseous components in the atmosphere responsible for global warming, trap infrared radiation emitted by the ground and thus contribute to the “greenhouse effect” by increasing atmospheric temperatures. This process takes time, so the heat peak occurs between 4 and 6 pm.

Tips To Beat The Heat

Here are a few more easy adjustments to your routine to keep you safe from the sun! 

  • Keep your home cool: Close curtains or blinds during the day to block out the sun, and open windows at night to let in cool air. Use fans or air conditioning to circulate cool air throughout your home.
  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, which can dehydrate you.
  • Clothing: Wear light-coloured, damp, loose-fitting clothing: Light-colored clothing reflects the sun’s rays, and loose-fitting clothing allows for air circulation, keeping you cooler. Dampness allows heat loss without sweating.
  • Use sunscreen and a hat: Sunscreen and a hat can protect you from the sun’s harmful rays and prevent sunburn.
  • Take a dip in a pool or lake: Swimming or just being in a body of water can help cool down your body temperature.
  • Cool off with a cold shower or bath: A cold shower or bath can help lower your body temperature and make you feel more comfortable.
  • Eat light and healthy meals: Avoid heavy and spicy meals, which can raise your body temperature. Instead, eat light and nutritious meals, such as fruits and vegetables.

The Importance Of Proper Hydration

Hydration is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. Here are a few reasons why hydration is important:

  • Regulates body temperature: Water is needed to regulate body temperature, and when we are dehydrated, it’s harder for our body to cool down.
  • Aids in digestion: Water is essential for digesting food and absorbing nutrients. Dehydration can cause constipation and other digestive problems.
  • Helps with weight management: Drinking water can help control appetite;  we may mistake thirst for hunger when dehydrated.
  • Maintains cardiovascular health: Dehydration can cause an increase in blood viscosity, which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Improves cognitive function: Water is essential for brain function, and even mild dehydration can affect attention, memory, and mood.
  • Keeps skin looking healthy: Adequate water intake can help keep skin looking healthy and hydrated and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Flushes out toxins: Water helps flush out toxins and waste products from the body, improving overall health and well-being.

What Is Heatstroke?

Heat stroke is a serious, deadly condition. It happens when the body’s temperature control system is overwhelmed by heat and cannot cool itself down. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • High body temperature: A body temperature of 40°C or higher is a sign of heat stroke.
  • Altered mental state: Confusion, disorientation, agitation, or unconsciousness can occur with heat stroke.
  • Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms can occur due to the body’s attempts to cool down.
  • Rapid heartbeat: The body’s efforts to cool down can cause the heart rate to increase.
  • Headache: A headache is a common symptom of heat stroke.
  • Dizziness or fainting: These symptoms can occur due to the body’s attempts to cool down and the increased heart rate.
  • Breathing difficulties: Heat stroke can cause rapid breathing or difficulty breathing.

It is essential to be aware of heat stroke’s symptoms and seek medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing them. In the meantime, it is crucial to take immediate action to lower the body’s temperature, such as moving to a cooler place, removing excess clothing, and applying cool compresses to the skin.

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