Summer doesn’t just bring holidays and free time. But sometimes also extreme heat and heat waves, like the ones that are hitting us these days. Extreme heat can have a significant impact especially on older people living in cities, more frequently if they are chronically ill or alone or with low incomes.
However, extreme temperatures can also cause it health effects even on healthy people: children, exposed workers, pregnant women, people who use alcohol and drugs, sportsmen who practice intense physical activity in the heat of the day.
Let’s defend ourselves from the heat
Do not go out during the hottest hours of the day, wear comfortable and light clothing, drink often, eat fruit and vegetables, never leave children in the car and also pay attention to the use of mechanical fans.
These are some of the anti-heat councils of the Ministry of Health.
From the website of the Ministry of Health, advice on how to defend yourself from the summer heat. Particular attention is paid to the weakest groups, such as children, the elderly or pets.
Here are some tips on behaviors to adopt during the summer season to protect yourself from the heat.
- Do not go out during the hottest hours: during the days when a high risk is expected, exposure to the open air must be reduced in the time slot between 11.00 and 18.00.
- Improving the home and work environment: the simplest measure is the screening of the windows facing south and south-west with adjustable curtains and blinds (shutters, Venetian blinds) that block the passage of light, but not that of air. Of course, the use of air conditioning is effective, but it must be used carefully, avoiding regulating the temperature at levels that are too low compared to the outside temperature. A temperature between 25-27 ° C with a low level of humidity is sufficient to guarantee well-being and does not expose to sudden changes in temperature compared to the outside. Mechanical fans should also be used with caution. They accelerate the movement of air, but do not lower the ambient temperature. This is why the body continues to sweat: it is therefore important to continue to take in large quantities of fluids. When the internal temperature exceeds 32 ° C, the use of the fan is not recommended because it is not effective in combating the effects of heat.
- Drink lots of fluids: Drinking plenty of water and eating fresh fruit is an essential measure to counter the effects of heat. Especially for the elderly it is necessary to drink even if you do not feel the urge of thirst. However, there are particular health conditions (such as epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver diseases) for which excessive fluid intake is contraindicated. If you are suffering from any disease you should consult your doctor before increasing your fluid intake. You should also see your doctor if you are on a treatment that limits your fluid intake or promotes its expulsion.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages or caffeinated beverages.
- Making light meals: digestion is a real job for our body that increases the production of heat in the body.
- Dress comfortably and lightly, with clothing made of cotton, linen or natural fibers (avoid synthetic fibers). Outdoors, it is helpful to wear light, light-colored hats to protect your head from direct sun.
- In the car, remember to ventilate the passenger compartment before starting a journey, even if the car is equipped with a ventilation system. In this case, adjust the temperature to values about 5 degrees lower than the outside temperature, avoiding directing the air conditioning vents directly on the passengers. If you have to travel, avoid the hottest hours of the day (especially if the car is not air-conditioned) and always keep a supply of water in the spot. Never leave babies, children or pets in the car, even for short periods.
- Avoid physical exercise during the hottest hours of the day. In any case, if you exercise, you need to drink plenty of fluids. Athletes may need to compensate for electrolyte loss with supplements.
- Caring for people at risk, visiting at least twice a day and checking that they do not show symptoms of ailments due to heat. Check infants and young children more often.
- Give pets plenty of fresh water and leave it in a shaded area.
To learn more www.salute.gov.it/caldo.
Why are babies more exposed to heat waves?
Extreme heat can have negative effects on children’s health.
In children, especially infants and young children, the body temperature rises rapidly due to a lower ability to thermoregulate. By sweating more, they risk becoming dehydrated.
Furthermore, children’s skin is more delicate and susceptible to sunburn than that of adults. This is because the skin cells that produce melanin (protective against UV rays) are less reactive.
How to protect children from heat waves?
- offer water to drink often
- breastfeed your newborn more often
- choose a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with a high content of liquids and mineral salts
- check the body temperature of infants and young children
- refreshes the body of babies and infants with a lukewarm shower
- whenever possible, open the diaper
- keep the room where the child stays cool
How to notice the symptoms of heat stroke.
- He retched
- muscle weakness
In case of mild symptoms, take the baby to the shade and cool him with water. Leave large parts of the body uncovered.
- dehydration (reduced urine, intense thirst, dry mucous membranes, cold skin, exhaustion and irritability)
- heat stress
- heat stroke (low blood pressure, rapid pulse, fever, loss of consciousness, seizures)
In case of moderate or severe symptoms contact your pediatrician or emergency services immediately.
How to protect children from exposure to sunlight
Given that children under six months of age must never be exposed to direct sun:
- apply high protection sunscreen (SPF 50+) before going out and reapply every two hours (or after a bath)
- protect your baby’s lips and ears
- use sunglasses with UV filter lenses
- keep the baby in the shade during the hottest hours
Symptoms from sun exposure
- skin burns and peeling due to phototoxicity and photoallergy reactions
In case of mild symptoms such as rashes and minor burns, use emollient creams and cold packs.
If the problem persists, contact your pediatrician or take the baby to the emergency room.