Navigate the heat

by Fatima Arif

Since the last couple of years, humans have been breaking the wrong kind of record; the rising temperature record! Each passing year is declared the hottest year compared to the previous one.

In Pakistan, the current week is expected to be the hottest week by far in the country with temperature raising to 42 degrees in many cities. And this is  just April, the traditional summer peak months have yet to show what they have in store for us. Given the current trend, it is safe to predict that the coming months will roast us. Serves us right for still not taking climate change seriously!

It is import to take precautions against the heat as it has a direct impact on our health.

Hydration is key

The most important thing is to keep yourself properly hydrated throughout the day. Take fluids at regular intervals, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Carry a water bottle with you and if it is going to be a long day outdoors, use a wet towel around your head and neck to keep your body temperature normal. An alternative is to regularly splash your face with water.

What not to drink

We are as crazy about our chai as we are about cricket. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you have had your two cents on the recent coca-cola vs chai war! Despite our love equation with chai, it is advisable to cut down on your caffeine and not use it as a ‘fluid for hydration’, especially if you have to be stay outdoors in this heat. Similarly, avoid fluids with artificial ingredients in them. Opting for lemonade or juice, make sure its fresh otherwise just stick with water.

How food can help

To start off eat small meals and increase the number of meals that you take during the span of a day. This ensures that your body gets a balanced nutrition. Add fruits and vegetables to your diet and avoid greasy and junk food.

Tap in your social conscious

Ensure that you take care of people around you as well. Check on family and friends you know stay outside for work, live alone or don’t have air condition etc. People who are in general more vulnerable to be affected by heat. Take food and fluids for them and spend some time with them.

A couple of other things that will help

  • Avoid going out between 11 am to 3 pm as this is the hottest part of the day.
  • Wear light coloured and loose fitting cloths.
  • Use a hat and sunglasses when outside.
  • If you work outdoors take frequent breaks.
  • Don’t leave your children and pets in the car.
  • If you have pets do check up on them frequently or signs of dehydration.
  • Keep the blinds of your office and home closed to minimize the heat.

Long term solution

All of the above mentioned are short term solutions that come in handy when the issue is upon us. However, the long term, sustainable solution lies in dealing with climate change. Every action counts, so to start off check your own carbon foot print and cut back on it where possible.

Another action that will be of great help and can be done is to plant indigenous trees that are more suited to our soil and help improve our environment. They not only clean our air, but provide shade, help cool down the temperature and provide a home to the bird species.

Some of the indigenous species that can be planted in your homes and communities include:

  • Shisham – Dalbergia sissoo
  • Sumbal – Salmalia malabarica
  • Mulberry – Morus alba
  • Neem – Azadirachta indica
  • Shreen (black and white) – Albezia lebbeck (black) and Albezia procera (white)
  • Sohanjna – Moringa oliefera
  • Pipal – Ficus religiosa (This incredible tree exudes oxygen even during the dark hours)
  • Banyan – Ficus Bengalensis
  • Jaman – Syzygium cumini
  • Toon – Cedrela toona
  • Amaltas – Cassia fistula.
  • Sukhchain – Pongamia glabra

Fatima Arif is Senior Officer Digital Media, WWF-Pakistan.

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