Summer is a great time to enjoy Hong Kong. However, temperatures can soar, which means many of us can suffer from heat stroke, severe dehydration or heat exhaustion. Not to mention the usual nasties that seem to multiply at this time of year (thanks to the heat) such as food poisoning and dengue fever. So how can you protect yourself and your family this summer?
A particularly nasty disease that unfortunately has no vaccine, dengue is spread by a particular type of mosquito and their bite. A virus that cannot be transmitted from person to person, it can cause death in the most extreme of cases. As there is no vaccine, the best way to avoid getting sick is to take preventative measures, such as:
- Wear long-sleeved clothing, in light colours. Mosquitoes are attracted to the color brown, for some reason.
- Apply mosquito repellent to all the exposed parts of your body, preferably including DEET. Lotions are often better than sprays as their coverage seems to be a little more universal.
- Try to keep water containers covered at home. Water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Keep an eye on drains to make sure they don’t get blocked.
- Change water in vases and in fish tanks at least once a week.
- Try not to leave open sources of water lying around, like dishes and bowls.
- Throw used bottles and cans into a covered dustbin.
This is one of the most common ailments that can befall someone in the summer months. Heatstroke can be dangerous, and as shown recently in Japan, several people have died from severe heatstroke. There are certain groups of people who are more at risk than others, such as the obese, the elderly, the sick and especially children. In order to avoid heatstroke, try to:
- Wear light, loose clothing, preferably in natural fabrics like linen or cotton.
- Drink plenty of fluid and try to avoid caffeine heavy drinks.
- Avoid alcohol if possible but if you do drink, try to rehydrate with a glass of water between drinks.
- Try not to do anything too physical during the hottest part of the day.
- If you have to be outdoors, try to do it during the cooler times, like the morning and evening.
- If you feel unwell, stop what you are doing and head indoors to try and cool down.
Pay attention to the radio as they will often broadcast Very Hot Weather warnings and will also give advice on how best to take precautions to avoid heat-related issues. Some common symptoms of heatstroke include clamminess, extreme thirst, fatigue, headaches, lethargy and a rapid pulse.
How to avoid heatstroke at work
If you happen to be working in a hot environment, then there are some tips you can bear in mind. If at all possible, try to provide shade and schedule for work to be done in the shade. If this isn’t possible, then using machinery to help complete heavier tasks will be worth its weight in gold as the sun beats down. Make sure that you take regular breaks and that you can access cold water frequently. Wear cool, loose clothing and if possible, wear a wide-brimmed hat or use a sun umbrella.
For a city that is especially hot and humid, bacteria in food can multiply extremely quickly and result in a very nasty case of food poisoning. Make sure that you buy food from reputable vendors that operate out of a clean location. Use your common sense and try not to buy food that has an unusual colour or smell. When you are preparing food, make sure that you remove skin, organs and any juices before cooking. For vegetables, wash them in mineral water and leave them to soak for at least one hour before cooking. Follow cooking instructions and try to eat as soon as you are finished preparing the food. If you do become sick, it is important that you stay hydrated, with water and a mineral solution. Salt and sugar will usually do the trick if you don’t have any solution in your first aid kit. Try to eat plain foods, like toast, rice or crackers.