Fighting a Heat Wave

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. Exposure to excessive heat may cause various health problems, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition.

A record heat wave affected Europe in August 2003, taking an estimated 35,000 lives. According to recent studies, more frequent and intense heat waves should be expected, due to global warming.

If a heat wave is predicted or happening, it is recommended taking these basic measures:

Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity.

Keep away from the sunshine. Stay in the coolest room of the house.

Drink a lot of water, regularly and often, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is the safest drink during heat emergencies.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid caloric meals.

Take frequent cool showers.

Wear lightweight, loose, light-colored clothing, as well as lightweight shoes or sandals. When outdoors, protect your head and face from the sunlight with a wide-brimmed straw hat.

Use a hand fan. Keep it always handy.

If air-conditioning is not available at home, use electric fans, and spend a couple of hours, each day, at an air-conditioned location, such as a shopping mall or a movie theater.

Stay informed via radio, TV or the Internet, and follow the emergency instructions from your local authorities.

Keep in touch and cooperate with your community, particularly helping those members who live alone.

Try not to drink alcoholic beverages (in order not to be dehydrated).
Remember to hydrate your pets. And do not take them for a walk at the hottest hours of the day.
Avoid long trips under the hottest sunshine and do not stay inside your car with the windows rolled up.

Very Important!

If you are under medical treatment, suffer from a chronic disease or just don't feel right, contact your doctor or medical service as soon as possible.

If you are in charge of young children or elderly persons, seek specific advice from your pediatrician, geriatrician or medical service, as soon as possible.