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17 April 2024

5 tips for a safe and healthy summer in the UAE

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By Majorie van Leijen

Soaring temperatures, a warm blanket of heat as soon as you step outside, drops of moisture on your glasses, or the persistent production of sweat; all these are signs that the summer is here.

As June is only the start of the summer period, residents in Dubai can be assured to face rising temperatures and humidity levels.

There are plenty of spots to hide from the heat or to avoid spending time outside when you are in the UAE. But if you have to spend some time outside, there are a few tips that can help to guarantee a safe and healthy summer.

Dubai Municipality, in cooperation with Civil Defence, has launched the three-month Safe and Healthy Summer Campaign, targeting workers, families, beachgoers, schools, desert campers, shops, flats, villas and visitors of open areas in the emirate.

“Global warming has been increasing every year and the direct and indirect effects of high temperature are terrifying. Many people are getting ill and die as a result of lack of protection from heat stress and unawareness of safety measures,” said Marwan Al Mohamed, Director of the Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality:

The following tips are a collection of the most important steps towards a safe and healthy summer.

#1 Your summer-safe diet

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in regulating the way the body responds to heat. Because the body responds to heat through sweating, hydrating the body sufficiently is most important.

Basically, anything that stimulates hydration is recommended and anything that dehydrates the body should be avoided. Naturally, water is the most important nutrient to the body during summer.

The amount of water required depends on the sweat rate which in turn is determined by the work rate, age, weight and gender of the person. In general, a good rule of thumb is every person should drink 30 to 35 ml of water per kilo of body weight.

Drinks containing caffeine speed up the dehydration. Think of coffee, karak tea, normal tea and energy drinks; these are better avoided during summer. Drinks containing sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and carbohydrates support the hydration, and are best at a concentration rate of 4-6 per cent.

Similarly, food can either increase or decrease hydration of the body. In general, salt and sodium and oil should be avoided. Spicy food is better kept away, while fruits and vegetables are recommended. A banana is a great piece of summer fruit as it is rich in potassium.

#2 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.

#3 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.

Pic: The Urine chart

#4 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.

#5 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.

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)