Stay Cool During A Heat Wave

A heat wave is a period of abnormally hot weather. It occurs when the temperature rises above normal for a significant period of time. In a severe heat wave, as your body tries to cool down, extra strain is placed on your heart. This can lead to heart related illnesses. Respiratory problems may also occur due to poor air quality during this time, so it is extremely important to take all necessary precautions.

Being in the middle of heat wave season, English speaking doctors provide some tips and tricks to help you keep cool this summer.

Barcelona Heat Waves

Barcelona is on heat wave watch in its summer months of June, July and August. During a heatwave, temperatures can rise to over 35° Celcius (86° Fahrenheit) in the shade. This is about 10 degrees above the average for the summer period. In Barcelona, it is considered a heat wave when the maximum temperature exceeds 33.1ºC (91ºF) for three or more consecutive days.

The start of this summer in Barcelona kicked off with a severe heat wave for Europe and Spain in the last week of June. Record breaking temperatures occurred in many countries and cities.

Heat Wave Essentials

One of the most important things to do during a heatwave is to stay hydrated. Very high temperatures and excessive heat causes extra loss of essential liquids and minerals needed by the body. This can quickly cause dehydration and exhaustion. It can also severely affect existing chronic illnesses if precautions are not taken. While staying hydrated, it is also important that your drink is cool to lower your body temperature.

Symptoms of Severe Heat Wave Effects On the Body

Heat exhaustion is the first and most common effect of a heat wave on the body. This includes symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, pale skin, and a sudden rise in body temperature. If these symptoms appear during your stay in Barcelona, you should move somewhere cool and drink plenty of water or fruit juice. If heat exhaustion is left untreated, heatstroke can develop suddenly and without warning.

Heat stroke symptoms include those of heat exhaustion and can be followed by intense thirst, sleepiness, hot and dry skin, increased body temperature, confusion, aggression, convulsions and a loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is extremely serious as it can result in irreversible damage to the body. This includes brain damage or even death. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor in Barcelona as soon as possible.

Essential Precautions to Take

-Drink regularly even if you are not thirsty. Water and fruit juice are best.

-Avoid alcohol, tea and coffee as these dehydrate the body.

-Try to eat foods containing water, like salads and fruit.

-Avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (12.00-17.00).

-When going outside, limit time and try to stay in the shade.

-Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing.

-Draw shades or curtains in the workplace or home to reduce heat from sunlight.

-Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than outside and open them when the temperatures inside are warmer than outside.

-Take cool showers and splash yourself several times a day with cold water to cool down, particularly your face and the back of your neck. 

-Carry a Spanish hand fan. They can be bought in most souvenir shops.

By following these tips and precautions, you are prepared to survive the next heat wave. If you find yourself in Barcelona during this time and need help or have any concerns an English speaking doctor would be happy to assist you in as little as 1 hour.

heat wave survival guide