Due to Rising Temperatures, Summer Could Cause Heat Stress

by Anshul Dash

Global warming is having a huge effect on how the 4 climate seasons behave. Due to rising temperatures, summer can cause temperatures to reach a record high. Because of this, people outside may suffer from heat stress — a serious condition that causes body organs to shut down. 

People who are vulnerable to heat stress tend to be those whose jobs involve a lot of work outdoors. Such jobs include farming and construction. Overheating is especially bad for doctors working during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dr. Jimmy Lee, “overheating can slow down our ability to do something that’s vital for medical staff – make quick decisions.” Doctors may also ignore ongoing symptoms of heat stress, causing them to collapse while working.

Heat stress occurs when the body is unable to cool down properly. Body temperatures rise to dangerous levels and damage organs, causing them to shut down. Heat stress typically happens in hot, humid places because evaporation of sweat cannot take place in humid environments. COVID-19 doctors wear special suits that protect them from the virus but prevent sweat from evaporating. As a result, many COVID-19 doctors are vulnerable to heat stress. 

The effects of climate change make heat stress more likely to happen. Increasing global temperatures cause more intense humidity, which is detrimental because more people are exposed to deadly combinations of heat and moisture for a longer amount of time, thus making them vulnerable to heat stress. According to UK Met Office Professor Richard Betts, “millions of people already work in the challenging combination of extreme heat and high humidity.” According to another published study, heat stress could affect 1.2 billion people worldwide by 2100, which is four times the amount of people affected now.

Fortunately, heat stress is avoidable. Hydration is the key to avoiding heat stress. Workers need to drink plenty of fluids before starting their work, and they should take regular breaks where they drink water and take rest. However, Dr. Lee has stated that he and his fellow COVID-19 doctors have a hard time taking breaks in between because “going for rests involves the laborious process of changing out of PPE and then back into a new set of equipment.” Another key to avoiding heat stress is being fit. Through being fit, heat tolerance is high, which serves as a sort of immunity to heat stress. Through proper aerobic exercises and staying hydrated, most people won’t suffer from heat stress.