Can heatwave be deadly? 5 ways extreme heat can put your life at risk; dos and don'ts to follow - Hindustan Times
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Can heatwave be deadly? 5 ways extreme heat can put your life at risk; dos and don'ts to follow

By, New Delhi
May 28, 2024 11:36 AM IST

Many people lose their lives annually to heatwave. Here's how extreme heat can kill and ways to safeguard ourselves. Know dos and don'ts.

Heatwave can pose a grave risk to human health and life. Exposure to extreme temperatures can affect several aspects of our well-being and can even have serious and potentially life-threatening effects. Many people lose their lives annually to heatwaves and it's important to be aware of the ways one must safeguard themselves during peak sun hours. Stepping out in extreme heat could silently impact the body and mind. (Also read: Severe heatwave grips Delhi: 5 things that can happen to the body when temperature soars above 45 degrees)

Prolonged exposure to such temperatures can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions like heat stroke that need immediate medical intervention as it can cause loss of consciousness and at times seizures.(Pixabay)
Prolonged exposure to such temperatures can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions like heat stroke that need immediate medical intervention as it can cause loss of consciousness and at times seizures.(Pixabay)

Prolonged exposure to such temperatures can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions like heat stroke that need immediate medical intervention as it can cause loss of consciousness and at times seizures. People with pre-existing heart conditions need to be extra careful during heatwaves as it can impact heart function. (Also read | Delhi grapples with intense heatwave: Watermelon to mint; 7 foods that can help prevent heat stroke)

Exposure to environmental temperatures above 45°C (113°F) can have serious and potentially life-threatening effects on the human body, as per experts.

(Also read | 5 delicious salads to add to your diet to beat the heatwave, prevent dehydration)

Dr Tushar Tayal, Consultant, Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram explains five significant impacts of heatwaves on the body which can even turn deadly if not addressed:

1. Heat exhaustion

A milder form of heat-related illness, heat exhaustion, can occur with prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. If not addressed, it can progress to heat stroke.

(Also read | 10 Ayurveda tips to beat the heatwave and stay cool)

2. Heat stroke

At such high temperatures, our body is not able to regulate its internal temperature leading to heat stroke. Symptoms include a high body temperature (above 40°C or 104°F), confusion, loss of consciousness, and sometimes seizures. Without immediate medical intervention, heat stroke can be fatal.

3. Dehydration

The body loses fluids rapidly through sweating in an attempt to cool down, leading to severe dehydration. This can cause symptoms like extreme thirst, dry mouth, reduced urine output, and in severe cases, confusion, dizziness, and fainting.

(Also read: Is heatwave making you cranky? Impact of extreme heat on moods; how to deal with it)

(Also read: Should you shave your dog this summer? Pet expert shares skincare tips for dogs during heatwave)

4. Cardiovascular stress

Heat puts additional stress on the heart as it works harder to cool the body. This can be particularly dangerous for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues.

(Also read | Heatwave and heart attack: What's the connection? How to beat extreme heat and manage heart health)

5. Skin damage

High temperatures, especially when combined with strong sunlight, can cause severe skin damage, including sunburn Prolonged exposure can also increase the risk of skin cancer over time due to UV radiation.

(Also read: Sedentary during heatwave? 6 ways to stay active and lose weight during summer)

Dr. Mohammad. Nadeem, Head - Emergency, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, shares dos and don'ts one must follow during heatwaves to avoid health issues.

Heatwave: Dos and don'ts to follow

With temperatures only going higher, you can keep in mind the following dos and don’ts and take care of yourself and your family.

(Also read: Can heatwave kill? 4 ways extreme heat can prove to be deadly, experts share preventive tips)

Don’ts

• Do not step out between 12 noon and 3 pm, if not necessary.

• Do not take up physically strenuous activities when the temperature is high.

• Do not consume beverages like alcohol, coffee, and tea that dehydrate the body.

• Do not eat protein-rich or stale food.

• Do not leave your pets or offspring locked in the car.

Dos

• Hydrate yourself from time to time even if you are not thirsty.

• Consume fruits like watermelon, homemade drinks like lemonade, lassi, and chhach, apart from ORS to re-hydrate yourself.

• Take cold-water bath and keep your home cool. Use shutter, sunshade and curtains during the day and keep your windows open during the night.

• Wear light-coloured, loose, light-weighed clothes. Also use protective accessories like goggles, hats, caps, umbrellas, shoes and/or chappals before going out in the sun.

• Keep yourself cool by using a damp cloth on your heads and limbs, and avoid direct sunlight and heat by using a cap or an umbrella.

Heatwave creates a physiological strain, which in some cases can even lead to death. It can rapidly increase one’s body temperature which can damage the brain and other major organs. So, it is essential for us to be safe and secure from the harmful effects of the heatwave and contact a doctor immediately in case of any symptoms.

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