The Citizen (KZN)

Expert tips on how to survive the heatwave

- Hein Kaiser

The relentless and sweltering heatwave that has gripped much of South Africa over the past few weeks may not let up until the El Nino phenomenon presently at play is exhausted.

In November last year, the South African Weather Service’s lead scientist on long range prediction, Dr Christien Engelbrech­t, forecast higher than normal temperatur­es.

“Temperatur­e-wise, the likelihood for warmer than normal conditions are high, with the highest chance over the interior regions of South Africa. There is a high chance of heat waves over the interior,” said Engelbrech­t.

Soaring temperatur­es this year have come to pass with the mercury approachin­g 40°C in parts of Gauteng.

The El Niño effect is a climatic phenomenon of the unusual warming of ocean surface waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

This warming can influence weather patterns across the globe, leading to environmen­tal impacts that can lead to rainfall in some regions and drought in others while warming or cooling down mean temperatur­es. In South Africa, it gets hotter.

“Excessive heat can create lethargy, impact productivi­ty and spark high levels of irritation and aggression in people,” said Dr Jonathan Redelinghu­ys of Medicare24. He said that it is important to self-manage accordingl­y.

Staying hydrated was most im

portant. He recommende­d high electrolyt­e containing liquids like coconut water. “Consume fewer caffeinate­d beverages and alcoholic drinks as these can have a diuretic effect, exacerbati­ng dehydratio­n,” he said.

“Wear light and loose clothing,” he added. “Fabrics must be airy and complement the body’s natural cooling mechanisms to aid perspirati­on evaporatio­n and prevent the body from excessivel­y warming up.”

Sweat can also cause infection,

he said, and advised that tight garments can trap moisture and heat – an environmen­t ripe for infection.

“Personal hygiene is essential when it gets this hot,” said Redelinghu­ys. “Bath or shower regularly and use a mild soap and dry yourself thoroughly afterwards.”

This is not just a relief measure against heat, but also aids in the prevention of unwanted skin infections.

The applicatio­n of talcum powder in areas that may perspire more than others was an added benefit.

A good night’s sleep becomes challengin­g in very hot environmen­ts. Redelinghu­ys recommende­d wearing clothing or sleepwear to bed made from natural materials such as cotton or bamboo.

“These allow the skin to breathe and keep the body cooler by ensuring that moisture is effectivel­y drawn away from the skin. It is conducive to a much better night’s sleep.”

 ?? Picture: iStock ?? KEEP COOL. Staying hydrated is important in high temperatur­es.
Picture: iStock KEEP COOL. Staying hydrated is important in high temperatur­es.

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