Beat the heat: A ready-reckoner on keeping cool

  • Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 25, 2015 16:03 IST

As the heat toll crosses 500 and temperatures are predicted to remain well over 45 degrees Celcius all week in many parts of India, be prepared for heat-related emergencies such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Sweating leads to excessive loss of salt and minerals, causing the body to dehydrate severely and causing problems.

(All photos: Shutterstock)

Heat exhaustion: Caused by excessive water loss due to extreme heat exposure.
*Symptoms: Weak, rapid pulse; low blood pressure; headache; nausea; dizziness etc
*Cure: Move to a cooler area, preferably in an air-conditioned environment and drink water

Heat stroke: The body can no longer regulate its temperature, which makes it to rise rapidly. It’s a medical emergency that can kill.
*Symptoms: High body temperature, dry skin with no sweating, rapid and strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, unconsciousness
*Cure: Rushed to the nearest hospital

Heat cramps: Occurs when intense physical exertion causes electrolyte imbalance in the body
*Symptoms: Cramps in the abdomen, calf or thigh muscles
*Cure: Drinking fluids – water, buttermilk, coconut water and lime water -- helps

How to protect yourself from summer heat:
*Avoid peak sun hours between 12pm and 3pm
*Increase fluid intake to 3-4 litres a day
* Drink cool, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages. Alcohol and caffeine tend to dehydrate
* Avoid very cold liquids as they may cause stomach cramps
* Drink water through the day even if not thirsty. If you're thirsty, it means the body is already dehydrated
* Drink a glass of water before stepping out
* When outdoors, have at least a glass of water or juice every hour
*Munch on food with high water content, such as watermelon, pineapple, cucumber etc
* Take a cold shower or bath if you feel very hot
* Wear loose clothes made of natural fibre
* Avoid strenuous activity during the day
* Use an umbrella or cover your head with a hat or a wet handkerchief when stepping out
* Apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before going out in the sun
* Use a spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or higher, even on cloudy days
* If you exercise, take a sip of a mixture of lemon water, sugar and salt every 15 minutes

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