With the rising temperatures in Qatar, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) advises residents to prioritise heat safety and take important precautions to avoid heat-related illness.
Heat-related illness can range from a mild, simple condition which can be treated at home, to a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care. It depends on the length of time you are exposed to heat as well as the temperatures you are exposed to.’
The number of patients seeking treatment for heat-related illness was reduced this year due to the Ministry of Labor ban on working in the open from 11 am to 3 pm during the peak summer months.
Explaining that official statistics for June will be released in late July, Dr Al Nuaimi said:
In May, heat exhaustion cases numbered about ten per week. From June through September the expected number is five to 10 cases per day. Cases of heat stroke are rare, at most two a month.’
Dr Al Nuaimi advises the following precautions:
- Increase fluid intake to stay hydrated and replenish water your body loses due to excessive sweating.
- Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol, as these can cause you to lose more body fluids.
- Eat small snacks throughout the day; avoid heavy meals and hot food as these can increase the body temperature. Salty snacks and fruit juices can help replenish the salts and minerals lost through excessive sweating. If you have a chronic illness and are already on a low-salt diet, however, you will need to consult your doctor regarding the amount of salt you can safely consume.
- Stay indoors in a cool place as much as possible.
- Avoid going out between 10 am and 3 pm as the temperature is usually at its peak during this time.
- Schedule outdoor activities such as sports in the early morning or evening hours when it is cooler.
- If you need to go outdoors, it is best to stay or rest often in shady areas. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, applied about 30 minutes before exposure to the sun.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Buddy system (or having someone accompany you) is also advised when you have to stay or work in a hot environment. Heat-related illness can sometimes progress so rapidly that you may suddenly become drowsy or unconscious, so it is helpful to have someone around who is aware of the situation.
- During exercise, drink two to four glasses of water or other cool, non-alcoholic fluids per hour. If you exercise outdoors, start slowly to allow your body to acclimatise to the hot weather. If you start having a fast or strong heartbeat and are feeling tired, stop exercising for that day, rest in the shade and take plenty of fluids.
- Never leave infants, children or pets unattended in a parked car, as temperatures can rapidly rise inside the vehicle.
- Check frequently on people at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness, such as elderly people, young children and babies, and those who are obese or who have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or other co-morbidities.