THE PHILIPPINES IS a tropical country, which means that when it is summer, it could get very hot, as it is now. As extreme heat waves are crossing the globe due to climate change, what are the evidence-based advice on how to keep cool that don’t cost much. The tips are as follows:
1. Put your hands or feet in cold water. In extreme heat, the body opens up the blood vessels that are close to the skin. Blood carries heat from inside the body to the surface, where it can benefit from the cooling effect of sweat evaporating. To stay cool easily, focus on parts of the body with lots of blood vessels: hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and armpits.
If you can, a swim or a cool bath or shower is also very effective. You can also spray your skin with water or wet your t-shirt. This cools the skin down like sweat but without costing the body any of its own moisture.
2. Eat light meals. Eating lighter meals like salads is another common-sense bit of advice with scientific backing. This is because light foods require less energy to digest, and produce less heat inside the body. The more complex foods will ultimately actually produce more heat in the body as they’re broken down.
3. Use an electric fan. A fan helps cool you down by helping sweat evaporate faster. It can be just as effective as air conditioning and is much cheaper.
What you can do is in terms of simple measures, put a bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan. You can feel that the air is cooler when you do that.
4. Drink before you feel thirsty. People start getting thirsty after losing 2% of their body fluids. It’s better to drink before that happens. You can check your pee to know if you’re dehydrated. If that gets darker, that’s a clear sign that you’re not drinking enough.
It’s better to sip water throughout the day rather than drink large volumes at a time because large intakes are likely to end up going to the bladder and quickly leaving the body.
If you drink cold water, you have to always make sure that your stomach and your intestines don’t get upset. If that happens, you could get diarrhea, throw up, you would lose a lot of electrolytes.
5. Be careful with exercise. In hot weather, it’s advisable to avoid strenuous exercise, unless you’ve specifically trained for the heat. You have this competition between the muscles and the blood flow to the skin. Oddly, people who exercise regularly can be at higher risk of heat exhaustion because of their overconfidence and tendency to push beyond their limits. Typically, the very fit person will do more. And that’s why it can often be the very fit people that run into trouble. By Manny Palomar, PhD (EV Mail April 24-30, 2023 issue)