DRINK YOUR WATER, KIDS! THE HEAT INDEX IS REACHING DANGER LEVELS, SO KEEP THESE IN MIND TO AVOID HEAT STROKE
That period between summer and the rainy season in the Philippines always brings out some of the hottest and most humid days of the year. In extreme cases, it could also cause a rise of patients suffering from heat stroke, which could be fatal if not treated abruptly.
Sunday, May 30, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported alarming numbers detailing the heat index across the country, with the average temperature rising to 46° C in the danger zone. The highest computed heat index was in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, at 53° C. These numbers are some of the highest temperatures reported in the country, and it’s showing no signs of lowering as we enter the rainy season.
In these times of extreme hot weather, heat stroke is unfortunately commonplace, which is why it’s all the more important for us all to consciously take care of ourselves, especially physically. Heat stroke, according to medical experts, is considered a medical emergency where one’s temperature control system fails to adjust to prolonged exposure of the body to high temperatures. It could result to considerable damage in internal organs and the brain, and in drastic cases, could lead to immediate death.
Symptoms include a throbbing headache, dizziness and light-headedness, muscle weakness or cramps, rapid heartbeat and breathing, disorientation, and unconsciousness. These are all effects of the body desperately trying to regulate one’s internal temperature in the face of intense external heat.
As Filipinos who have lived in this tropical weather for most of our lives, a lot of us are probably convinced that we’re used to this boiling hot weather. Therefore, not needing to take extra precautions against the sun’s glare. However, these levels are rising way past what we’re used to, and it’s truly better safe than sorry when it comes to our health.
With this, here’s a quick list of reminders to keep in mind to ward off any unwanted heat-related illnesses:
The most basic, and most important reminder: drink your water. Since we were little, it’s the cardinal rule of living in a tropical country to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration. Given the extreme heat in this case, dehydration can also come in from salt depletion, so it’s recommended to also trade in a glass of water for an electrolyte-rich sports drink at times.
Bonus: Hydrate your physical body too!
Drinking water is for your internal temperature, but you have to take care of your external body too. Take showers when you feel the heat creeping in more strongly, wash your face in the middle of the day when the sun’s at its highest peak, and if you’re lucky enough to have access to it, submerge your whole body in the pool or ocean.
Wear light clothes
Put your denim jackets and skintight pants to rest this season as these thick materials would only weigh your body down even further, and trap the heat in the most inconvenient places. Take your sundresses, shorts and tank tops out for a spin, and you’ll be sure to feel the welcome breeze when you’re outside.
Don’t stay under the sun too long (+ wear sunblock!)
This isn’t like those whitening commercials that portray walking under the sunlight as such a dangerous thing that’ll get you a shade darker (like it’s such a bad thing to be dark skinned). In this case, it’s truly more of a precaution against the ultra-high temperatures that could irritate your skin, and result to various heat-related complications. Wear sunblock to protect your skin from dehydration, and stay under the shade as much as you can.
Physical labor under this heat is just unimaginable, but not all of us have the privilege to avoid it altogether. So if you have any essential repairs, construction, or exercises to do under the glaring sun, remember to listen to your body’s needs and don’t push too hard. Keep a bottle of water at hand, wear the lightest clothes you have, and take breaks under the shade!
Raincheck on day drinking
Alcoholic beverages are also massively dehydrating, especially if you do it under the sun. As much as it paints a picture-perfect scene to day drink and imagine yourself in the beach, it may not be all that worth it if the heat index is this high. If you really want to enjoy day drinking amid this weather, do it under the shade or enjoy iced cocktails that would get you refreshed, not even more parched.
We can expect that this summer heat isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s best to be prepared. On top of everything we have to think about with COVID-19, we can’t forget the serious implications of the Philippine sun in summer, and just a few weeks away from the rainy season when it’s at its hottest. Climate change and global warming are indeed making its presence felt across the world.
Remember these tips, and take care of yourself under this blazing temperature. Soon enough, rain clouds will replace that heat, and sweaters and denim jackets will finally come out to play again.