It’s only the first week of April but already, summer has turned brutal. It’s as if the great El Sol is right smack in your face, determined to win a face-off. Just over the weekend, Metro Manila’s heat index went up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Here’s the thing: heat of this caliber isn’t only paralyzing, it’s actually quite dangerous. “A heat index between 41 and 54 degrees, which will be commonplace in the Philippines this summer, is dangerous and likely to cause cramps, exhaustion, and even heat stroke after continuous activity,” writes Dr. Eduardo Gonzales on Manila Bulletin.
The Department of Health has already raised the red flag on heat stroke and has issued repeated reminders to the public to take precautionary measures.
But wait up and hold your horses: What is heat index anyway? Heat index is different from temperature in that heat index is actually what people feel as opposed to what is measured by a room thermometer. So you can feel like you were in the depths of hell with a 41 degree Celsius heat index but it’s actually just the usual 32 degrees Celsius.
Heat index is what we need to pay attention to this summer actually, because a heat index of 41 degrees Celcius is not a good thing—you can get convulsions from having that kind of fever.
The DOH warns the public of getting heat stroke, a life-threatening emergency marked by fever. But a heat stroke is not the only thing you need to watch out for. It’s actually the worst of the things we all have to watch out for.
First, there’s Heat Syncope, which is typified by transient loss of consciousness. Heat cramps meanwhile are characterized by muscle spasms. In both condisitons, the skin is moist, the pulse is weak, and the person may complain of dizziness, lightheadedness, and headache.
With heat exhaustion, you get slight to moderate fever, increased pulse rate, moist skin, thirst, anxiousness, and sometimes, incoherence and disorientation. It is this, heat exhaustion, that can progress to heat stroke.
Now, how to avoid all these.
1. Check out and cop out of the outdoors between 10am-2pm. This is when the sun is at its hottest.
2. Slip a shirt and slap a hat. Time to bring out all your Uniqlo airism pieces to make sure your clothes don’t make you feel like you were in a hot box. Buy presko clothing and wear them. And then keep a change of clothes.
3. Wear sunscreen. We cannot emphasize this enough.
4. Drink your water. Especially when you’re assigned to do field work this summer, drink two to four glasses of water per hour.
5. Avoid subzero beverages. They can actually give you stomach cramps.
6. Avoid diuretics. These are drinks that make you pee faster—like beer, coffee, soda. They’ll make you lose more body fluids, which is a no-no in this heat.
7. Don’t exercise. Until sundown or before sunrise at least. Save your outdoor activities for early morning and late afternoons.
Illustration: Madel Crudo
[h/t Manila Bulletin]