Heat tips: sunscreen and drink a lot


Beautiful sunny days with temperatures around 25 degrees make almost everyone happy. This is different if the thermometer settles for several weeks at 30 degrees and above and also regulates high humidity with low wind. The German meteorological service then speaks of a strong, even extreme, heat load, particularly strong when the sun is shining almost continuously and the night is cooling only a little.

An appropriate weather situation is particularly associated with physically demanding outdoor work and with impaired and highly susceptible people at increased risk of heat stroke or insolation. Especially with children and the elderly is often aggravating added that they drink too little. A subsequent lack of fluid often leads to dehydration. "A long period of heat can be associated with health problems and serious illnesses," writes the Public Health Office of Lower Saxony in an up-to-date information sheet.

Dizziness and cramps

Heat stroke occurs when the body absorbs more heat as a result of the sun because it can return to the environment. "The body temperature can then increase rapidly and become uncontrollable," says Dr. Holger Petermann, head of the health department of the city of Oldenburg. Typical symptoms include heated, reddened skin, headaches, and intense thirst. This can cause unexplained agitation, as well as dizziness and confusion. In particularly severe cases, convulsive seizures and a darkening of consciousness introduce – even to loss of consciousness. At least in this case, an insolation can be extremely deadly.

The so-called sunstroke, which results from prolonged direct exposure to the unprotected head, can be just as dramatic. The result is an irritation of the meninges, which – as in meningitis – is caused by a high fever and severe headache and sudden stiffness of the nape of the neck. Toddlers who spend too much time without a helmet under a hot sun are particularly vulnerable. Babies should not be exposed to direct sunlight before their first birthday, because children's skin is even more sensitive than that of adults.

Add liquid

If there are signs of heat stroke or sunstroke, call a doctor immediately. Regardless of this, one can also help oneself with a few simple emergency measures. Petermann: "You should bring the person to a cool, shady place and provide him with a stream of air." If there is no disturbance of consciousness, it is also important to provide fluid. Relief provided by wet cooling envelopes and loosening of clothes.

On very hot days, you should do without intense physical activity. Children need a shady place protected from the sun during mealtime, which is subject to intense radiation. On the outside, they must wear ventilated clothes, but at the same time cover the skin clothing and a cap with neck protection.

Before a sunburn, you can protect the child with an impermeable sunscreen with a sufficiently high sunscreen (factor 15 at least). Since high heat leads to increased fluid requirements, parents should ensure that their child drinks regularly and adequately. The state health department recommends cold fruit tea, sugar-free fruit juice and mineral water, which are particularly suitable.


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