Heatwave on the way, government gives guidelines

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thirsty-man-937395_1280With temperatures in Monaco expected to reach at least 31°C by the weekend, the government has issued guidelines for residents on how to protect themselves during a heatwave – or la canicule, in French.

While the advice seems repetitive, it’s better to take precautions rather than have to deal with the consequences of heatstroke, which can be fatal.

Residents should avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours, from 11 am until 5 pm, and avoid energetic exercise.

Take a siesta in the early afternoon if possible, as it helps the body to cope. Professor Bill Keatinge, a University College London expert on how heat affects the body, explains midday rests during a heatwave as “a simple way of staying cool without installing air conditioning”.

Drinking water before becoming thirsty is also essential to better help the body manage the warmer temperatures, so aim for at least one and a half litres of water each day. Alcohol, coffee, tea, sodas and sweetened drinks act to dehydrate the body and are a no-no during the peak heat periods.

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It’s worth noting that if the temperature rises above 32°C, using a fan will do little or nothing to alleviate the heat. Shutters should be closed during the day and opened at night once the temperature has fallen. Hanging a damp cloth in the window can also help.

During periods of intense heat, it’s advisable to check on relatives, particularly the elderly – and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. While the main sign of heat stroke is a core body temperature above 40°C or fainting, and a lack of sweating despite the heat, it shares many symptoms with heat exhaustion – such as pounding headaches, dizziness, muscle or abdominal cramps and nausea and vomiting – which can be a step away from progressing into heat stroke. The Princess Grace Hospital Centre number is +377 97 98 99 00.

And finally, as the 2016 census recently reported that 28 percent of homes in the Principality had one or more pets, remember to keep furry family members safe from the heat also. Limit their exercise, keep an eye on the water dish to make sure they are hydrated and cool them off in a tub or with a wet towel. Dogs sweat mainly through their paws so a fan may not be an effective coolant.

Article first published June 14, 2017.

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