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Heat Wave Safety

A heat wave is when the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum by 5˚ for more than 5 consecutive days.

And the heat is on!

I have decided to re-post this, as we are experiencing high temperatures again, please be careful in this heat!

On the first of September it became Spring.  I am not sure what that means for all of us here in the middle of the heat wave, although I have heard that it may be over soon.

Now for me this weather has been great, I love the heat but even I struggled when it went over 38˚C.

So, instead of looking at housekeeping, I thought of looking at ways to keep cool and also a bit of advice on recognising heat exhaustion.

First, what exactly is a heat wave? A heat wave is when the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum by 5˚ for more than 5 consecutive days.  So, at this time of year, when we should be experiencing temperatures of between 20 and 26˚C, we are experiencing more than 30˚C in Johannesburg and some places have even reached into the 40˚C range.

The most important part of dealing with a heat wave is keeping cool.  Young children and people over 65 are the most at risk for complications arising from the heat wave.


Children’s body temperatures

Please remember that cars can reach temperatures of over 40˚ within minutes and kill quickly, so no matter how quick you think you will be, do not leave kids and pets in the car.

In the city and urban areas, the temperature is much higher, due to the heat absorption by solar panels, tarred roads and tall buildings.

The average healthy person should slowly drink up to 4 cups of water every hour if they are outside, in the car, or in a non- air-conditioned environment or doing physical activity.


Drink up to 4 cups of water per hour during a heat wave

High protein foods such as salted nuts can also help with the loss of sodium (salt) during sweating.

Try to find the coolest room in your house if you do not have an air conditioner. If you are in a double storey, you will find that the rooms upstairs are usually the hottest, so spend as little time as possible in them.

Have quick, cool (lukewarm) showers.

Wear loose, light weight clothing; wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. Avoid wearing dark clothing as this absorbs the heat.

Do not exercise between 10 am and 2 pm as this is the hottest part of the day and presents the greatest risk.

Swimming will not totally reduce the risk of heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, as it often masks the symptoms. When swimming, make sure to continue to drink water. Sunscreen is vitally important as sunburn can lead to dehydration.  While swimming may prevent your body from overheating, it is still exercise and you will not notice sweating, so it is important to keep drinking water while in the pool!


Even in the pool you can suffer heat stroke

Avoid excessive alcohol, as this can dehydrate you even faster.

The signs of heat exhastion

Recognising heat exhaustion:

What will you see?

Person will be cool and clammy (sweaty)

Sweating excessively

Tired, fatigued and listless

Light headed or dizzy

Slightly uncoordinated

Cramping of the arms, legs and abdomen (stomach)



Recognising Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and the person must be taken to a doctor or emergency room

The signs of heat stroke

What will you see?

Temperature of 40˚

Severe headache

Light headed and dizzy



Nausea and vomiting

Irritable behaviour and emotional instability

Muscle weakness and cramps

Flushed, red face

They are no longer sweating!

Very fast heartbeat (pulse)

Very fast, shallow breathing

Seizures (fitting)

What do you do?

treatment of heat exhaustion and heat stroke

For both heat exhaustion and heat stroke:-

Move the person to a cool place and remove as much clothing as possible. Either put the person in a cool shower or use a cool damp cloth to wipe them down

Give them water or an energy drink to replace the fluids and minerals that they have lost.

If there is no improvement within 30 minutes, call an ambulance or take the person to the emergency room.

Treatment of heat stroke

While you are waiting for medical assistance, place a cool damp sheet over the person and place ice packs in the persons groin area, under their armpits and behind their neck (they should not start shivering, if this happens remove the ice packs)

Children dehydrate and suffer heat complications faster than adults, so every time you drink give a few sips of water to the baby or child, If you are breast feeding and the baby is under 6 months, give the baby the breast for shorter periods more often. DO NOT GIVE THE BABY WATER.

Even pets can suffer from heat stroke!

Stay cool and stay safe, this is just the beginning and meteorologists have predicted that we will have a lot more of these high temperatures.

Once again, thank you Google for my images.



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