Feeling hot, hot, hot
One of the biggest deciding factors when choosing the perfect holiday destination is how hot and sunny the weather’s going to be. After all, no-one wants to book a dream beach holiday to spend the week sheltering from tropical storms.
But record temperature highs recorded across mainland Europe, North Africa and the United Kingdom last month, meant that British holidaymakers hoping for some summer sun may have got more than they bargained for.
With blistering heat bringing travel chaos as road surfaces melted, train tracks buckled and flights delays and cancellations, holidaymakers and locals became inventive in finding their own ways to keep cool:
A state of undress
In Germany, police stopped a man for riding his moped naked. And while closer to home commuters were being roasted for travelling topless on the London Underground, Munich city council is said to be considering a debate to allow topless bathing.
Despite the heat, British tourists risk arrest or fines if they sunbathe topless, warns the Foreign Office (FCO), although their survey of 34,000 adults shows that half of all women who sunbathe topless on holiday don’t bother to check first whether or not it is against the law.
The unwritten dress code for holidaymakers is to wear light clothing. Lightweight, natural fabrics will help to keep the skin shaded from the sun and protect it against sun damage. You can even buy clothes with UV protection.
Wear sunscreen when outside, whatever the temperature.
Drink plenty of water, especially if active, or outside in the heat of the day. Carry water with you, adding ice (made from bottled water) to keep the water cooler for longer. Don’t guzzle iced drinks. There have been reports this summer of iced drinks lowering blood pressure causing falls.
Be mindful that your body loses minerals when you sweat, so use sports drinks or choose food to replace the lost minerals. Beware of excessive alcohol – it can increase the risk of dehydration.
If there’s no clean water source, use a water bottle with a built-in filter.
Sprinkling water on your skin or clothes will cool you down. Paper fans and hand-held battery-operated fans will help keep you cool too.
And the old adage that drinking a hot drink or eating spicy food to cool you down is true.
Change your schedule
The siesta is historically common throughout holiday hot spots, helping locals avoid the heat of the day. And dining late is not unusual. So follow the locals’ example and change your schedule to keep comfortable.
If you don’t have to be outside in the heat, stay inside, preferably in places with air conditioning and keep the windows closed and the curtains, blinds drawn and shutters closed.
Head outside for some breeze and shade but don’t overexert yourself and take frequent breaks if in excessive heat or physically active. Try to schedule your activities during the coolest parts of the day whenever possible. If day trips and excursions are fixed, make sure to take frequent breaks.
Avoid all but essential travel on public transport.
Think about friends and family
Help out vulnerable friends, relatives, pets and strangers who may be struggling in the heat. Children will love to keep cool in the pool, and it is important to stay alert to their safety, however sluggish the weather is making you feel.
Wild swimming may seem really attractive in warmer weather, but unlike the seaside, there usually won’t be warning signs to alert you to wildlife or adverse swimming conditions.
Nighttime temperatures are just as important. The body really needs a break but stay cool and hydrated throughout the night to reduce the risk of health problems. Sleep in light clothing and again sprinkle water on clothes or skin to keep cool.
Strong winds and 40 degree temperatures have fanned several wildfires from France to Greece.
Some areas have been evacuated, and in others, have been warned to shelter indoors and switch off their air con.
So take care when discarding items such as matches, cigarettes and portable bbqs.
And if you see a fire that is unattended or appears out of control, contact emergency services immediately.
If you find someone struggling in the heat:
- Move them to a cool place.
- Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
- Get them to sip water, or sports or rehydration drinks.
- Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too
- However, if they do not recover within 30 minutes, they may be suffering from heatstroke, which is a medical emergency.
Heat can kill. But most heat-related deaths will be heart attacks and strokes caused by the strain of trying to keep body temperatures stable.
- Heat Cramp
Heat cramps are the result of an excessive loss of fluids, salt, and other minerals.
Muscles most usually affected are those in the abdomen, arms, and calves.
- Heat Rash
Sweating helps cool your body’s overall temperature. When this sweat becomes trapped beneath blocked pores in your skin, it leads to light, blistering red rash that may itch intensely.
- Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is the first indication your body is starting to overheat. Symptoms include profuse sweating, a very rapid or feeble pulse, dizziness, nausea, severe cramping, and headaches, or increased fatigue. You may also have skin that is cool and moist to the touch even if you are in hot conditions.
Young children and older adults may experience heat exhaustion faster than others.
- Heat Stroke
If your body reaches a critical level of overheating, you can fall victim to heatstroke, which requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms can appear immediately and include nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and breathing, inability to sweat, severe headache or light-headedness, or confusion and disorientation. You may also suffer from seizures and unconsciousness.
Published on 29/07/19