desert under yellow sunset

8 Useful Tips to Cope with the Next Heat Wave

We hear more and more speaking about heat waves. But what exactly is a heat wave?

A heat wave occurs when there is a period of 3-6 consecutive days (short heat wave) or at least 7 consecutive days (long heat wave) with an average daily temperature greater than a standard deviation  (calculated over the period 1981-2010 or if available 1991-2020) compared to the average “normal” daily temperature of the season. With climate change, it becomes increasingly difficult to define the “normality” of a temperature.

Heat waves don’t happen only on land but also the oceans are impacted.

Last summer, in Belgium where I live, the heat wave lasted for 12 days, but there was even worse. During the summer of 2018 we had a two-week long heatwave, and in 1997 it lasted seventeen days.

How to survive a heat wave

1. Wear light clothes and opt for light colors, natural and breathable materials (avoid polyester).

2. Drink plenty of water

Always keep a bottle of water handy so that you can drink a lot, at least two liters a day. Even if you’re not thirsty, your body needs large amounts of fluid during a heat wave. Choose cold drinks that are not iced, preferably water, but you can also add flavorings, lemon juice is perfect and also helps you keep fit.

You can also add ice cubes to your drinks but not too many because you’ll cool off even slower.

3. Choose a non-alcoholic cocktail when you go out

It is better not to touch alcohol during a heat wave. Alcoholic cocktails and glasses of wine are diuretics, and your body retains heat. The solution? Choose an alcohol-free alternative, like a ginger drink, because this plant has a very thirst-quenching effect.

4. Keep your drinks cool

Are you leaving for vacation? Don’t forget the cooler bag and remember of course to put the day before leaving some dry ice bricks in the freezer so as to drink deliciously cool drinks during the trip.

5. Rest

With the heat you tire more, take a break regularly, and avoid great efforts (such as outdoor sports). Even a nap from time to time can’t hurt.

6. Look for fresh corners

Protect yourself from the sun, put on a high sunscreen, and apply it every two hours. If you don’t have air-conditioning like me, during the day keep your home cool by getting dark in the rooms. At night, however, open the windows to the maximum to circulate the air. Look for the coolest corners, do not go out in the hottest hours and when you go out favor a walk in a park or in a forest.

A fan is an absolute must. Put one in your bag and use it when you feel very hot.

7. Eat smart

Temporarily stop eating hot meals and opt for salads and fruit instead. Don’t have much appetite? Try to eat at regular intervals.

Eat healthy snacks such as nuts, grapes, or dried fruits to regularly boost your energy.

8. Use a hat

If your head is not protected, you are much more likely to get burned. For impeccable elegance, protect yourself with a straw hat or choose a cool and refreshing cap.

S.O.S sunstroke? What to do?

Sunstroke or sunburn is the consequence of a direct excess of sun. The skin turns red and hurts. In some cases, headache, nausea, fatigue, and temperature occur. Sunstroke sometimes causes dizziness or even fainting.

What to do?

·       Refreshes burnt skin by wrapping it in cold, damp towels. If the skin is severely burned, keep it for at least 15 minutes under a tap of warm water. Then apply after-sun in abundance.

·       In case of severe pain, take an aspirin or paracetamol.

·       In case of blisters, cover them with a sterile protection.

·       Drink plenty of water, at least two or three liters daily.

·       Find a cool place to rest.

·       Avoid the sun for a few days so that your skin can heal completely.

·       Consult a doctor in case all this does not help you improve.

Are you ready for the next heat wave?

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13 thoughts on “8 Useful Tips to Cope with the Next Heat Wave

  1. We are having a heatwave in Arizona. Our biggest plus is walking before dawn. It’s a pleasant temperature with a mild breeze, we get to watch the sun rise as we get exercise.

  2. Great timing- on this post! I think our latest heatwave here was over the winter. It’s was about 20 degrees above normal for about 2 weeks. It was not hot, it was really quite pleasant, but not cold like it typically should be. I don’t know if that counts as a heat wave, it just seems like that type of things is more common these days.

    1. I don’t know either if it counts as heatwave, but the climate change is here with heatwaves, floods, strong winds, and all the extreme weather phenomena. Thank you for commenting Todd!

  3. As a person who lives in the tropics and near the sea, I can agree that all of these are regularly followed in summer… eat well, dress weather appropriate and stay hydrated… A very much needed reminder…

  4. Great tips, Cristiana! I’m wondering about “You can also add ice cubes to your drinks but not too many because you’ll cool off even slower.” Do you know why that is? It seems counter-intuitive.

  5. Great tips Cristiana. We’ve been the opposite in the UK currently, having below average temperatures, with rain and winds 😬

    But the heatwaves we’ve been seeing elsewhere have been very worrying. Regrettably these are going to become the norm, so it’s important we learn how to keep ourselves safe

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