From waking up early to carrying water bottles: What UAE residents can do to cope with summer heat

Amidst the hot weather, dizziness, extreme thirst, headaches, and muscle cramps should be taken seriously as these are signs of heat exhaustion, says doctor

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Published: Fri 14 Jul 2023, 6:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 17 Jul 2023, 7:11 PM

[Editor's note: This story has been updated as the temperature in the UAE crosses 50°C-mark for first time this summer]

UAE expat Firas Hamdan used to sleep in until past 7am on a work day so he can leave the house at around 8.30am. Now, with the summer heat reaching 50°C in some parts of the country, Hamdan wakes up as early as 6am.


Starting the day as early as possible is one of the best ways to beat the heat, said Hamdan, who works as a sales executive at a tech firm.

He leaves for his office at 7am and arrives around half an hour later — and since it would still be too early to start his shift, he spends the next few hours in the gym.


“I have enrolled in a gym near my office. My fitness sessions usually start at 7.30am. During winters and when the temperatures are low, I prefer my evening fitness,” said Hamdan.

Sharjah resident Mohammed Fami also switches his routine for the summer season.

“Post-workout is my work. Normally, during winter, I am out with family and friends in the evenings. But evenings during summer are spent at home, making us sleep before 11pm,” said the expat, whose office is just near Sahara Mall.

For Fami, summer evenings are reserved for family and friends. “At times, I take children to malls and entertainment centres for their games or bowling,” he said.

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What doctors say

Changing up routines to avoid direct sunlight exposure — especially during noontime — may indeed be necessary, according to doctors.

“People must stay indoors during peak heat hours and avoid direct sun exposure. Consuming enough water to stay hydrated and prevent the loss of electrolytes is also essential," said Dr Ahmed Mohammed Abdelrazek Mohammed Deabes, internal medicine specialist at Burjeel Farha Hospital, Al Ain.

When it comes to clothes, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing is preferred — and it would be best to avoid tight shirts and pants.

"Avoid activities directly under sunlight, especially at noon. Protect yourself by wearing sunscreen and sunglasses. Give your body time – at least a few days – to adjust to a hot climate before doing strenuous activity,” said Dr Deabes added.

The eyes should also be protected properly, said Dr Borja Salvador from Barraquer Eye Hospital, Dubai.

“Prolonged and unprotected exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light, can cause acute painful conditions such as photo-keratitis and/or photo-conjunctivitis,” he said.

Beware of heat exhaustion

Amidst the hot weather, residents should watch out for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include weakness, dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse, and thirst.

Dr Deabes said it takes 24-48 hours to recover from heat exhaustion, and in case the symptoms are observed, here are the first aid measures that must be done:

  • Move the person to a cooler environment.
  • Place him/her in the shade or a cool place while awaiting transport to a medical facility.
  • Remove restrictive clothing if it hampers cooling.
  • Have the person lie down with their legs elevated above the level of the heart.
  • Mist the skin with cool water and use fans to boost air circulation.
  • Provide the person with refrigerated drinks.

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