Symptoms, Precautions and Tips for Heat Stress
Avoid direct sun exposure
There are those who would not mind getting tanned and rather look for the sun than stay out of it. However, temperatures in the UAE are not the same as in other summer destinations; temperatures do really head towards the 50.
It is known that the body gradually acclimatises to the heat. However, when new to the UAE, the heat can be overwhelming and you may experience fatigue and weakness. It is therefore recommended to take the time to acclimatise, and take extra precautions during the first couple of weeks.
Outdoor activities are best to be scheduled in the early morning or evening hours, as temperatures usually peak between 12noon and 4pm. When venturing out, wearing cotton clothes of light colour are recommended.
Although it may not come to mind when commuting from one point to another, sun screen is not a luxury. For some people, heat rash prevention creams are recommended. When working outdoors, frequent breaks must be taken, especially at midday.
Monitor your urine
It may be difficult to understand how your body reacts to heat. There are several indicators, but this one is probably easiest to determine the level of your body’s hydration: monitor your urine.
The darker the colour of your urine, the lower is your body’s hydration rate. See the urine chart below to check your hydration rate.
How to recognise heat stress
There are three levels of heat stress; heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat cramps is the least serious condition. Symptoms are heavy perspiration, feeling tired and thirsty, and experience of painful muscle cramps or muscle spasms. Nausea, loss of appetite and irritability can also be experienced.
A person suffering from heat exhaustion may experience some similar symptoms but in more serious form: profuse perspiration, fatigue, weakness, poor coordination and restlessness are common, paired with a cold, clammy, pale skin. The victim could experience headache and vomiting, a weak but rapid pulse, and faintness. The body temperature is usually above 38°C.
Heat stroke is a very serious condition and could be fatal. As with the other conditions, the victim experiences headache, nausea and dizziness. The skin is not cold and clammy, but flushed, hot and unusually dry as the body has used all its water and salt resources. There is a high body temperature, and the victim can suffer from confusion or a fast-developing deep unconsciousness.
What to do in case of heat stress
In case of a heat stroke, medical assistance should always be sought immediately. Help from surrounding people will prove helpful. While waiting for the assistance, the victim needs to be stripped of his outer clothes and cooled down by applying cold water or a wet sheet. If the victim is conscious, he can sip water. However, the victim may be vomiting.
When a person is suffering from any kind of heat stress, he needs to lie down in preferably a cool place with the legs slightly elevated. Drinking water is always a good idea. The victim will benefit from drinking an electrolyte replacement solution. This solution includes sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium and hydrates your body.
In case of heat cramps, one should massage the limbs gently to ease spasms or firmly if cramped, and apply ice packs afterwards. When the symptoms are more serious, clothes should be loosened. The victim will benefit from a fan and sprays of water of the body.