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Beating the heat this summer

“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,” said Rudyard Kipling in Gunga Din, more than a century ago but, most Indians do go out in the midday sun, mainly out of necessity. The heat of the sun peaks midday and the attended risks of exposure to it may have influenced Kipling’s thinking.

When the weather gets too hot, our bodies start sweating. The water from inside our bodies gets discharged as sweat to cool the body. This is the way the body reacts to maintain the external body temperature. Many a time this in itself cannot help since, improper body hydration and heat stroke conditions can prove detrimental even to human safety. Fortunately, the human body can adapt to the stress of heat conditions with proper care.

We have often heard people complaining of the heat in summer. Those who can afford can escape to cooler climes or buy air-conditioned comfort. To those who can afford neither, there are simple yet effective solutions to beat the heat.

Use an umbrella if you are walking outdoors. If you must stand outdoors, find a shaded area which will be cooler than standing in the direct sunlight. Wear a broad-brimmed hat if working in the sun. Wear cottons and fabric that breathe when you go outdoors. Polyester clothing will be uncomfortable. Even the bed linen should be cool cotton. Wear loose fitting cottons at home.

Some tips for keeping your house cool

Open windows of the house; use dark colored curtains to block out the harsh sunlight especially, if the outside temperature is over 34 degree Celsius. You can escape into the air-conditioned room, if you have one, otherwise a simple trick of using a wet bath towel on the window grill should help bring down the temperature. If you have table or pedestal fans, place a bowl or a large pan filled with ice cubes in front of it and let the fan run. This will spray the cold water mist into the room.

The ancient Egyptians used to dampen a sheet and lie under it; better would be to lie with the damp sheet over a dry one and not directly under the wet sheet. Another trick is to cover the sheet in plastic, keep it in the fridge or freezer and use it when retiring to bed. These are all temporary respites. Hanging wet ‘khus’ mats on open widows can also provide relief so long as the mat is wet. This, however, works well in dry climates. Science tells you that hot air rises while the cold air being heavier settles down; thus it would make sense to lie on the floor or slightly above it. This does not apply if the room is air-conditioned.

Turn off all unwanted lights as the heat from these lights could add to the heat already in the room. Unplug all electrical gadgets that are not in use since these appliances give off heat even when turned off. Fans will only circulate hot air inside if the outside temperature is high. Use a spraying mechanism as outlined earlier; alternately switch on the air-conditioner till the room is sufficiently cool and then switch off. This, of course, will impact your electricity bill.

Some tips for keeping your body cool

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
Stay in shaded areas whenever possible.
Wear light colour clothes made from cool cottons or breathable fabrics.
Limit physical exercise to the minimum.
Eat light and avoid spicy foods and foods that heat up the body like meat, eggs, junk and fatty foods.
Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol.

Drink plenty of water and fruit juices that have a cooling effect of the body such as watermelon, lemon with mint, cucumber, tender coconut water, fennel seed water, pomegranate and skimmed butter milk.

Take a cold shower before you go to bed but take care that the water is tepid and not icy cold. Drink a glass of water before bed to compensate for the loss due to sweating in bed at night.

Heat-related illnesses ranging from heat exhaustion, cramps and heat stroke can be caused by dangerously high temperatures. Dehydration due to heat can be fatal hence re-hydrate using electrolyte solutions. The ORS (oral re-hydration salts) are available, over the counter (OTC), at any medical and drug stores in India. Take precautions and enjoy your summer.

Stanley Varghese for IndiaProperty.com

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/water-wave-macro-photography-1579915/

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