January 17th, 2020

To Your Health: Strategies to beat the heat

By GILLIAN SLADE on July 29, 2019.


It has been a hot week with many of us battling to stay comfortable especially when there had been no breeze.

Having been raised in a hot climate, where you had months and months to hone a strategy to manage the heat, I am often surprised at the choice of clothing people make in hot weather. It is not unusual to see people with long-sleeved, thick cotton, T-shirts in 30 C weather.

Sometimes you want clothing to protect you from the sun but then choose very light weight fabric and clothing that is billowing rather than fitted. In hot climates, such as India, you see men wearing long tunics.

As the hot weather continues, you should do an experiment of your own. Try wearing a dress made of flimsy fabric without any belt and the next day a pair of shorts plus a T-shirt. You will probably be hotter wearing the shorts because of the additional layers of fabric around your middle. Men may find a larger light-weight shirt is cooler than a T-shirt or golf shift. Collars are also likely to make you feel hotter.

If you don’t have air conditioning there are some strategies to keep your home as cool as possible. Generally the coolest time is after midnight and in the early morning hours. That’s the time to have your windows open to cool the house. Before it gets hot outside close up your home. If you have windows where the sun shines in, close the blind or drape.

Try to control how much heat you generate in your home. Choose meals that do not need to be cooked on the stove. Don’t use the oven. Limit the use of hairdryers that blast hot air.

Take a cool shower just before going to bed to cool your body temperature. Have some ice packs, or towels, in the freezer. These can be placed around your neck or at the back of your head to cool you down and help you sleep.

If you have a thick and fluffy mattress pad you need to remove that during summer.

The last thing you need when you’re trying to get to sleep on a hot summer’s night is a mosquito. Ensure your window screens are in good repair and that they fit properly.

The last thought I want to leave with you is the need to enjoy summer.

We spend so much of the year indoors that it is a crying shame not to enjoy being outside in summer. The last 30 minutes before going to bed is a wonderful time to sit out of doors. Enjoy the cooler temperature, the sound of birds going to bed and wildlife make their way to the river for a drink.

Sometimes you can be entertained by the contrails in the sky, if it is not dark yet. Large aircraft, depending on the conditions, often leave a trail of condensation. It’s interesting to watch how winds at the higher altitude disrupt them.

It is also a great time to look at the stars and allow yourself to calm down mentally from what you have been doing all day. Allow yourself to forget about the day and avoid thinking of tomorrow. Take a moment to be grateful for what you enjoyed that day and go to bed feeling calmer and happier.

Here’s to coping in hot weather and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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