India is currently experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 47 degrees Celsius. The heat wave has now spread westwards, with temperatures in Pakistan and the Middle East reaching 50 °C. The highest temperature ever recorded was in Sweihan, Abu Dhabi at 50.5 °C.
Up to 2000 people have died in India as a result of sunstroke and dehydration related to the heat. It is expected that heat waves will continue through summer with Eastern Europe and the Balkans expecting temperatures exceeding 38 °C throughout July and august.
Exposure to such high temperatures increases sweating, and results in loss of fluid and electrolytes causing rapid dehydration. This can result in heat exhaustion or heatstroke which can be life threatening if not dealt with promptly.
Any traveller can be at risk of sun and heat related injuries, but the highest risk is in the elderly, babies, children and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Travellers who perform strenuous physical activity will increase the risk of illness related to the heat.
It can take the body up to 10 days to acclimatize to the heat, so it is important that travellers are prepared to prevent heat related illness.
What can travellers do?
*Seek shelter and shade during the middle of the day (11am -3pm) when temperatures are at their hottest
*If you are outside, ensure you protect your skin against the sun with a high factor sun cream
*Wear lose fitting light weight and light colour clothing
*Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and eating food with a high water content (such as fruit)
*Ensure you are taking in sufficient salt in your diet (sweating leads to electrolyte and salt depletion).
*Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can worsen heat related illness
Heat stroke can be a life-threatening emergency and medical help should be sought.