Thursday July 21, 2022

This summer, keep your cool as far as possible

This summer, keep your cool as far as possible

Illustrative image.

Since moving to the UAE some 26 odd years ago I thought that the people in the Middle East were the few people in the world who experienced extreme heat during the summer months. The temperatures here can often climb to the late 40 with little or no breeze and a lot of humidity. If you need to go out for any reason you find that it’s not always practical to be outside even if it’s to wait for a cab or to walk to a bus stop or a metro station. Apart from these times it is inadvisable to venture out unnecessarily. But that was the advice given just to UAE residents, or at least that’s how it used to be.

Now it appears that most parts of the world that would not normally see such extreme heats are sweltering in temperatures as high as the 40s and 50s as well. Weirdly enough it’s countries like the UK, Europe and America where the TV weather maps have turned a deep red. Anyone would think they’re in the Middle East. But sweltering they are and even though it may only be temporary, hence the name ‘heatwave’, we should remember that these countries are not equipped with centralised air-conditioning to deal with high temperatures and humidity, even for a few days. These countries usually have the opposite problem where it’s normally freezing cold, with sleet and slow and summer showers. In these countries a central heating system is a must. But hot it is for the moment and some people quip that the sun is trying to kill them! To be honest, unless you’re outside, the sun won’t kill you, if you take some precautions both indoors and outdoors.

Since this heat appears to be a global phenomenon (for the moment), we should perhaps look at some of the advice that’s being given by people who are all too familiar with a hot environment.

Obviously if you live in a country that does not normally require an AC (like the UK and most of Europe) then everyday precautions are necessary to stay cool and not get heat stroke. Don’t forget that if you’re not used to a really hot climate, you are more vulnerable to getting heat related ailments. So my first advice would be to not stay out for too long. And if you must, wear very light clothing made from silk (not cotton which I think is highly misleading) which, if it is thin enough, will help evaporate the sweat and keep you cool if there is a light breeze blowing. Sweating is not only a perfectly normal bodily function but it serves a vital purpose in keeping us cool, provided of course, if there is enough wind to evaporate it. If there is no wind then sweating will only make matters worse and that’s when a small battery operated fan might come in handy. But if there is a breeze, it might be an idea to get yourself to sweat a bit by drinking something hot or eating something spicy. But oddly enough the very people who complain about the heat still seem to insist on being out unnecessarily or dining al fresco, in which case maybe restaurants should invest in external industrial fans, you know, like the ones restaurants here have.

Even in your homes you can do things to bring the temperature down a bit. For example, try keeping your curtains drawn during the day and undraw them only after the sun’s gone down. If you live in a flat, and you are able to, try opening windows at opposite ends to create cross-ventilation. But if you live in a house then, keeping in mind that hot air rises, try opening the upstairs windows so that the hot air has a way to escape thereby cooling the place down. Also, in the evening try to use fewer lights. Lights generate energy which, in turn, generates heat. You’ll notice that dark rooms are cooler

Ditch your duvets at night. These are designed to keep the heat in during the winter so swap them for thin bed coverings. Also try wearing really thin night clothes, again, made from silk and get a stand up fan that revolves so that the air circulates. Keep a spray bottle filled with water in the fridge for emergencies so that it can be sprayed all over someone who has become overheated after coming in. Have cold packs in the fridge too and, when necessary, apply them to the head, feet and torso.

You know, Australia is very used to extreme temperatures. Some Australians are somewhat miffed that Europe and the UK are complaining about a ‘little heat’ that’s likely to be only temporary, especially since they complain about the cold all winter long too. Their sarcastic advice to people in Europe and the UK? Use a fan and ice like the rest of us!

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