Nowadays, temperatures are soaring; the heat is unbearable! We definitely need to know what to do to cope with these harsh conditions. The human body enjoys temperatures lower than this, but, of course, not very low.
Of course, people differ, but temperatures of between 16 ÔÇô 23 degrees Celsius tend to be enjoyed by many Africans.
The human body
The human body is complex. Temperature regulation is among the vital activities that the body does on a daily basis without any instruction from anybody. All it does is respond appropriately to the environmental temperatures.
When the environmental temperatures drop, the body senses that and will start retaining the body heat. Goose pimples will appear and shivering may start, if need be, to generate heat.
High environmental temperatures like the ones we are enduring today will cause a lot of sweating as the body is forced to lose more heat to the environment. Sweating is good for the body if temperatures are high. The water content of sweat cools the body by absorbing the heat!
So sweating is a necessary thing!
Who should listen?
Africans are known to cope well with heat but with today’s temperatures we need to exercise caution in anything we do, especially for things that involve a lot of physical activity. All activities, including manual labour and fitness activities, such as jogging and all other sporting activities, should be carried in the morning or evening when temperatures are favourable.
The Sunday soccer lovers should consider starting earlier than their usual times because it is not good to play a 3 ÔÇô 4 hour long match in the burning sun.
Too much heat strains the body and one tends to lose a lot of water, or may experience body cramps, heat exhaustion and or even heat stroke.
Many African men believe that it’s fine to work in the farm in a hot day. It’s not really ok.
It’s not uncommon to hear that some collapsed while busy working in the sun. Although many factors could be responsible for these cases, heat can also be responsible.
What problems can occur?
Too much heat strains the body. The complications may not always be severe, but common things include heat rash, excessive fatigue, headaches, and dizziness.
In cases where significant physical activity is done in the hot sunny day, the body loses a significant amount of water and it runs dry, and if the activity continues one may experience heat cramps. These are painful muscle spasms that players commonly experience when they exercise or play in hot conditions. It is a mild form of the known heat related disorders.
Sometimes if strenuous activity is done under high temperatures one can experience heavy sweating, rapid and weak heart beat, fatigue, nausea, light-headedness or headache. This can develop suddenly or even days after the activity.
This is called heat exhaustion. Operations such as fighting a veld fire with tree branches can predispose you to this since many muscles are in action in the face of a terrible heat. People should always rest when they feel weak during this exercise.
Children and elderly people should always be advised to stay away. There should also be a lot of water available for those taking part in the exercise. This should not be ignored!
The worst form of these disorders is called heat stroke. It is a life threatening condition.
Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke if ignored. The signs include collapse, unconsciousness, lack of sweating, body temperature above 40 degrees Celsius, rapid breathing and a racing heart beat. This is a medical emergency; seek medical attention immediately for those who show the signs.
How do we cope with high temperatures?
Avoid strenuous activity in the heat. The mornings and the evenings are the best times for such activities. Sunday soccer lovers, coaches, employers should consider this.
Wear light coloured and lose fitting clothes that absorb minimal heat and allow your body to sweat and cool itself.
During veld fire fighting, those who feel weak should be evacuated from the scene before deaths arise. There should also be plenty of water available for those taking part in the exercise.
Drink plenty of water if your work is mainly in the open and burning sun. Start early, rest at mid day and continue in the evening.
Avoid walking long distances in a hot day.
Swim if you can but don’t try it alone if you can swim, water can be dangerous!
Wear huge sun hats and protect your eyes with sun glasses if you are to carry an activity during the day.