Expats need to plan ahead as heat waves strike

heat wave stay cool

Expats not used to the heat need to be prepared for heatwaves this summer.

According to global warming scientists, the Earth is heating up. While those expats in the UK perhaps wouldn’t agree, many parts of Europe and the United States are suffering in the heat. A recent heat wave in the U.S. has claimed at least 46 lives and experts say this last year has been the hottest in the country since modern records began in 1895.

Heat waves spark wildfires and droughts, as well as endangering the health of people living in them. Elderly people and young children are particularly at risk from the health effects of extreme temperatures. Babies need to be monitored closely as they can’t regulate their body temperature in the same way adults can.

For expats moving from a relatively mild or rainy climate to a hotter one, staying safe in the heat can be challenging at the beginning. Heat can trigger exhaustion, heart attacks or confusion, and worsen existing conditions, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

How to stay cool in a heat wave

The good news is adverse effects of the heat are largely preventable. Bear in mind the elderly, those with existing health conditions and children are more at risk from the effects of the heat. The World Health Organisation has published an updated fact sheet with advice on how to deal with extreme temperatures.

  • Keep your house cool – Ideally the temperature should be below 32ºC (90ºF) during the day and 24ºC (75ºF) during the night. Hang wet towels to cool the room air, though be aware this will increase the humidity. Open windows at night to cool the air. During the day close windows and blinds or curtains, and turn off as many electrical devices as possible.
  • Keep out of the heat – Avoid going outside at the hottest times of day and move to the coolest room in the house, especially at night. If you can’t keep your house cool try to stay in a building with air conditioning for 2-3 hours per day. Don’t leave pets or children in parked cars.
  • Keep your body cool – Drink often, but avoid alcohol and too much caffeine, this goes for meals high in protein too.  Use light linens and bed sheets with no cushions to prevent heat build-up. Wear natural materials, hats and sunglasses and take cool showers or baths. If you are taking medicines keep them in the fridge or below 25ºC (77ºF).
  • Keep out of the car – Temperatures in a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level. A dark coloured dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range 82ºC (180ºF) to more than 93ºC (200ºF).

Image: Keokster (sxc.hu)