How to protect yourself from the hot weather in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic?

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In the streets of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Pyrenees-Atlantiques), August 5, 2020. – Bob Edme / AP / SIPA

Unlike previous heat waves, our preventive actions must adapt to the coronavirus epidemic this year. How to reconcile barrier gestures and prevention of heat stroke? While a heat wave is expected in France, a little reminder of the necessary reflexes.

Drink, yes but not too much

You have to quench your thirst without waiting to be thirsty, to compensate for the water lost (through perspiration, respiration and urine). Drink, yes, but not excessively to avoid edema and other harmful consequences. On the other hand, avoid alcohol and drinks loaded with caffeine which have a diuretic effect.

Food contributes to hydration with vegetables and fruits (cucumber, tomato, lettuce, watermelon, melon…) and dairy products (yogurts, white cheeses).

Cool off by wetting your body

You can cool off by wetting your body regularly (at least the face and forearms) and by taking showers, but not in too cold water: at the time it feels good, but beware of thermal shock …

Ditto for unwanted dives in a river or a lake that is too cool, regularly warns the National Federation of Firefighters of France (FNSPF). We run the risk of drowning by hydrocution.

Stay and sleep cool

At home, leave shutters, curtains and windows closed during the day and open in the evening and at night if it is cooler. Avoid going out during the hottest hours and take shelter from the sun. It is also necessary to avoid sport and intense efforts in full sun.

Bad idea: sleep next to the fan. Very dry air may dry out the sinuses or throat after several hours and this is hardly recommended for allergic people, because of the risk of exposing themselves to a stirring of impurities.

In the context of the Covid-19 epidemic, “most of the usual recommendations for dealing with a heat wave continue to apply”, underlines the General Directorate of Health (DGS). “However, it is necessary to adapt habits in terms of cooling indoor spaces, especially in communities,” she emphasizes.

“Thus, the ventilator can no longer be used in communities, in closed spaces where there are several people. However, it can be used in the family environment in the absence of sick people ”, specifies the DGS. For air conditioning, it is necessary to “clean and maintain the installations regularly”, and “to use filters with good sanitary performance, properly maintained”.

Do not give up barrier and mask gestures

“Respect for barrier gestures, in particular physical distancing and wearing a mask when this is not possible, must continue” even if the temperatures rise, underlines the DGS.

“You should never wet the mask, even if it can provide a feeling of cooling,” she adds. “If the mask is moistened, for example because of perspiration, it must be changed quickly, because its effectiveness is no longer guaranteed”, according to the DGS.

Beware of overheating in the youngest

Children “should never be left in direct sunlight or left alone in a vehicle”, underline the health authorities. The temperature can quickly exceed 30 degrees. The risk is deadly. “Red face, sweating, crying, discomfort” are the first signs that show that babies begin to suffer from thirst and heat, according to the French Association of Ambulatory Pediatrics (AFPA).

In case of discomfort

Do not ignore the warning signs showing that the body is starting to suffer from the heat (cramps, fatigue, weakness and / or unusual insomnia) and think about drinking, cooling down. Call a doctor if they worsen or persist for more than an hour.

Violent headaches, nausea or vomiting, incoherent speech, loss of consciousness, convulsions, temperature above 39 ° C: it is heat stroke. You have to call 15 (Samu).

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