Most of Pakistan is experiencing an extreme weather event that has resulted in the hottest days with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius in many cities.
In the South Asia region, pre-monsoon temperature records were shattered in 2023 by the hottest February recorded in India since 1901, along with the hottest day in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 58 years last month.
As cities in South Asia are expected to become hotter every year with prolonged heatwaves, there is an urgent need to plan for now and the future ahead. Here are some necessary steps you can take to prevent a heat stroke and protect yourself and your loved ones from this deadly heat.
1. Stay hydrated
Heat exhaustion can happen to anyone. Heat waves and dehydration go hand in hand so it’s essential to keep drinking an ample amount of water throughout the day. Water helps you in staying cool and maintains healthy internal body temperatures. If you’re sweating a lot, it may be important to replenish your electrolytes with an electrolyte replacement beverage. The good old traditional lassi is one of the best drinks to cool off.
2. Eat foods that help prevent heat stroke
With plenty of water, eat healthy foods and summer fruits that will help you stay cool. These foods include cucumber, watermelon, pomegranate, tomatoes and seasonal juicy fruits. With temperatures hitting above 40 degrees in many parts of Pakistan, few things beat a refreshingly delicious fresh fruit smoothie.
3. Create your own AC
Making your own air conditioner obviously sounds too difficult however it’s as simple as putting a fan in front of a bowl of ice water. As the air passes over the surface of ice water, it eventually cools down helping in reducing the room’s temperature. Pointing the fan directly will maximize the impact. Here is a list of 25 homemade DIY air conditioner projects.
4. Becoming a fan of fans
Don’t have an air conditioning system? Box fans, ceiling fans, and various other types of fans are the only tools for keeping your home cool. Ceiling fans prevent cool air from getting stuck near the ground by helping in the circulation of air throughout the house. While a box fan set at the window, pointing outdoors at nighttime acts as an exhaust system that blows warmer air outside and allows cooler air to enter the homes.
5. Keep your home cool and avoid upper portions
Since hot air always rises upwards, it means that the upper portions of your homes will most probably be warmer in summer. Ground floors and especially basements can protect you from scorching temperatures and help keep you cool.
Keep your home cool by closing windows, shutting curtains and blinds during the day, and opening windows at night for ventilation.
6. Go swimming
Taking a dip in a lake, canal or river seems to be the perfect summer retreat. City dwellers can check out public and private pools as well as gyms for swimming.
7. Switch-off heat sources
Electronic items create excessive heat since 90% of the total energy consumed by the incandescent light bulb is emitted solely as heat energy. The surface temperature of one of these bulbs sometimes might touch 250 degrees! To prevent this heat energy, keep your lights off during the day. Electronics also discharge heat, even when not in use so try using a power strip to easily unplug when unnecessary.
8. Avoid midday sun and go out prepared
You should avoid being in direct sunlight between 12 pm and 3 pm when the sun is at its strongest. Wear a hat and carry an umbrella. If you do go out, spend the hottest parts of the day in the shade as much as possible. And, most importantly, don’t forget that sunblock.
9. Take cold showers or soak feet in cold water
Cold water is your ultimate friend during heat waves in the summer season. Cooling one part of your body helps cool off the rest of you so, an easy way to keep cool is by filling a basin or bucket with cold water and dipping your feet in it. Cold showers and baths will have the same cooling effect. Using a wet towel on the shoulders can also help you cool off.
10. Dress light
Wear lightweight and breathable fabrics like linen and cotton will help keep you cool through those sweltering months. For Pakistani women, there is no better option than lawn clothes in this sweltering summer. Choose light and pastel color dresses that reflect, rather than absorb the rays of the sun. Avoid jeans and go for dresses. Also, minimize the use of accessories.