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Heatwave in Greece: 13 tips for a healthy summer holiday

Heatwave in Greece: 13 tips for a healthy summer holiday
Heatwave in Greece: 13 tips for a healthy summer holiday

Several tourists died as a result of a heat wave in Greece – probably due to overheating and lack of water. An expert gives tips on how to avoid unnecessary risks in high temperatures.

There is currently an enormous heat wave in large parts of Greece, with temperatures reaching over 40 degrees. In several parts of the country, at least five tourists died within a few days while hiking, from overheating or dehydration. No one can say how long the extreme temperatures will last. Here are the most important rules of conduct when it is hot at your holiday destination.

Drink enough!

Even under normal circumstances, i.e. at pleasant temperatures, an adult should drink two to three liters of water or tea a day. The need increases significantly at higher temperatures. The body needs four to six liters in very hot weather to compensate for its fluid deficit. Very important: If you drink a lot, you must also consume enough electrolytes. This is because when you sweat (intensively), the body also excretes a lot of minerals through the skin.

Check your weight!

“Even a one percent loss of body water leads to measurable limitations in mental performance in adults,” says extreme medicine specialist Hanns-Christian Gunga. What follows is dizziness, headaches, muscle disorders, and shortness of breath. Fluid losses of ten percent of body weight are life-threatening. The problem: Older people in particular do not always feel thirsty enough. In addition, as with certain pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heat loss through the skin does not work optimally. You can easily test whether your body is getting enough fluids by standing naked on a scale in the morning and evening.

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Acclimatize yourself!

“It takes about seven to 14 days for the body to adapt to extreme heat,” says Gunga. After that, the body begins to sweat earlier and the sweat has a different composition. It is much thinner and contains fewer electrolytes because the body does not want to lose them. In addition, the blood volume increases because certain proteins are formed.

Big tour only in the morning!

The best time for excursions is early in the morning when it is not yet so hot and sunny. Hiking or cycling tours at lunchtime should be completely off limits. It usually takes some time for the temperature to cool down in the evening. Avoid very long excursions without stopping to cool down.

Don’t go on the court or board at lunchtime!

In the first two to three days, you should generally avoid strenuous physical activity, such as long hikes. But surfing or a tennis match in the midday heat and bright sunshine can also put a lot of strain on the body. Especially if you add a lot of ambition to the fun.

Put on sunscreen and wear a hat!

In addition to drinking enough, good sun protection is essential. The sun cream should have a UV protection factor of at least 30, preferably 50; otherwise you risk sunburn. A hat is also very important. In case of doubt, it protects against dangerous heat stroke. Otherwise, clothing should be loose-fitting so that air can circulate along the body.

Look for shady places!

Avoid black asphalt roads and concrete surfaces, as these heat up particularly quickly. If possible, seek out shaded green areas, such as parks, gardens or backyards. In some countries there are also specially set up cooling centers such as shopping malls or public buildings. Churches and subway stations also promise cooling.

Hands off too much alcohol!

This tip may seem pointless for party vacationers, but it is very important. Because “under the influence of alcohol, a hormone in the body that actually ensures that fluid is retained in the kidneys is inhibited. The body then dehydrates even faster,” warns doctor Hanns-Christian Gunga.

Make sure you get a good night’s rest!

Good sleep is important to give your body a rest. If possible, ventilate your bedroom at night when it is cooler outside. If it hardly cools down at night and the hotel room or holiday apartment does not have air conditioning, you can ask the tour operator for a cooled alternative. It is more difficult if you have booked the accommodation on your own. Perhaps you can find a fan that at least creates a slight feeling of cold. It is better to find out before booking whether the room or apartment can be cooled – especially if it is in the attic.

Check the heat effect of your medications!

Some medications can affect our body’s temperature regulation, inhibit sweating or increase fluid loss. “People who take blood pressure medication can collapse when their blood vessels expand because there is not enough blood volume available for the brain,” says Gunga. Medications that are applied as a patch through the skin suddenly reach much higher doses because the skin is supplied with more blood. Others change or lose their effect in very hot weather or need to be stored in a particularly cool place. “You should definitely discuss this with your GP before a heatwave,” advises Gunga.

Pay attention to heat warnings!

It is better to cancel or postpone planned activities if the weather forecast warns of excessive heat and sun. There is an additional danger when the air humidity is high, says Gunga: 33 degrees air temperature at 100 percent humidity feels like 55 degrees.

Take symptoms of illness seriously!

Dizziness, headaches and lightheadedness, nausea, cramps or an increased body temperature are warning signals. Very red or very pale skin, fever and vomiting can also be signs of circulatory collapse or dangerous heat stroke.

Take a siesta!

It’s not just Spaniards who stop working from midday until late afternoon; lunch breaks are also common in other southern countries. Follow the locals’ example and retreat during the hottest times. Your body will thank you.

Source: Stern

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