Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has warned Nigerians to brace up for more hot days, warm nights and heat waves across the country. The heat wave is due to climate change.
Excessive heat has harmful effect on our health. It can cause dehydration, heat cramp, heat exhaustion and heat stroke and a wide range of other health problems such as rashes, kidney stone or failure and exacerbate existing chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes and lead to death.
Many of the negative health effects are preventable. Therefore, adaptive measures to take during a heat wave season such as the present one are
1. STAY COOL: stay indoors particularly in the afternoon when it gets very hot, stay away from any form of heat. If you have to go out, wear UV sunglasses, wear a hat, adorn light apparel, stay in well ventilated cool room, turn off non-essential lights and use energy saving/solar bulbs. Refrain from athletic exercises and direct outdoor activities.
2. STAY HYDRATED: Drink plenty of water while avoiding alcohol, caffeine or drinks high in sugar.
3. EAT: Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals, fruits and vegetables.
4. SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE: if you have a chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension or taking medications or if you notice any change in your health.
5. STAY INFORMED: Stay updated, listen daily to weather forecasts and know the symptoms.
HEAT RELATED SYMPTOMS: watch out for heavy sweating or no sweating, weakness, muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, fainting, irritability, thirst, decreased urination, very high body temperature, altered mental state such as confusion and unconsciousness.
WHAT TO DO: Stop activity for a while, move to a cooler location and rest your head, drink water, loosen clothing, apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible and seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.
At home, do the same and look out for others. Keep your environment cool, clean and tidy for the hot season is also occasion for increased vector borne diseases. Other vectors such as rodents also breed rapidly during this season causing increase in climate sensitive infectious diseases such as Lassa fever.
This information is from the Department of Public Health, Climate Change and Environmental Health Division, 9th Floor, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Secretariat, Phase 3, Abuja.