Spain’s heatwave: a survival guide

Experts offer advice for staying safe as temperatures soar above 40ºC in some parts

Tourists protect themselves from the heat in Puerta del Sol in downtown Madrid.
Tourists protect themselves from the heat in Puerta del Sol in downtown Madrid.Juan Carlos Hidalgo (EFE)

As a second heatwave continued to beat down on Spain, the National Meteorological Agency (Aemet) issued its latest warning on Sunday: central and southwestern Spain are expected to register temperatures of over 40ºC in the coming days, while elsewhere thermometers will crawl up to between 36ºC and 38ºC.

A mass of African air is being blamed for the conditions, which are not expected to relent until mid-July. Until then, experts are recommending the following...

Drink plenty of water, eat light meals, and avoid exercise

Keeping hydrated is vital to mitigate the effects of the heat, as is avoiding alcohol and energy drinks. It is particularly important to look after babies, the elderly, and the sick. Eat lightly and often, and keep physical activity down to a minimum, taking care to avoid exercising during the middle of the day. Try to wear light clothing, and be careful about high temperatures inside cars – these are some of the recommendations issued by the OCU consumers’ association.

Don’t go out between noon and 4pm

The Health Ministry has warned people to stay indoors during the middle of the day, and not to sleep out in the sun during the hottest hours. If you must perform any outdoor activity, be sure to take steps to protect yourself from the sun and the heat.

Choose the right solar protection

The National Association of Perfumes and Cosmetics (Stanpa) has highlighted the importance of using the right sunscreen to avoid getting burnt, and in the long term, to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. There are around 300 products on the market, says the organization, adding that it is important to differentiate between face and body creams.

In the summer, be sure to use higher protection factors. The European Commission says the minimum solar protection factor (SPF) is six. It is important to apply creams properly, says Stanpa, suggesting that adults need to spread around 30 milliliters uniformly over the entire body.

Store medicines properly

The Spanish Medication and Health Products Agency (AEMPS) underscores the importance of storing drugs properly. It recommends checking the instructions to establish if pharmaceutical products need to be kept below certain temperatures. In such cases, the best place to keep prescription drugs is the refrigerator. In general, it suggests storing drugs at temperatures of no higher than 30ºC.

Some pharmaceutical products, such as suppositories and creams, are sensitive to higher temperatures. In such cases, “it is relatively easy to assess their quality, because when exposed to excessive heat, the appearance of the product will indicate its stability,” says AEMPS.

More information
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