Why you should take the U.K’s heatwave seriously

“I just got back from Dubai and I want to go back, the U.k is hot and hard at least in Dubai it can be hot and soft”

According to *Olamide who had lived all her life in Nigeria and just relocated to the UK 3 years ago. It would be easy to believe this heatwave is child’s play to Africans after all countries like Egypt record temperatures as high as 51 degrees celsius and Nigeria can get as hot as 42.6.

The United Kingdom has experienced an unparalleled rate of temperature rise over the last few days. With tweets and remarks from Africans in the diaspora downplaying what is happening and how potentially dangerous it can be and why it’s a big concern. The temperature started rising on the 8th of July. On the 18th of July, a heatwave was declared, and it is still ongoing with a record temp of 40-degree celsius.

For a place that is renowned for being chilly, it is very simple for new immigrants to believe that this is a typical summer and that it is time to enjoy the sun. However, the government is devoting resources to spreading awareness of how deadly this heatwave is. So we spoke to two Africans about how they are dealing with heatwave.

Divine, 45-year-old Kenyan, who has been in the UK for 24 years, believes she has seen and done it all, and opportunities favour the prepared. She strongly believes climate change isn’t directly in our control, and the earth will one day “recalibrate itself”. Her words, not mine .

“I recycle when there are provisions for it, but it’s frankly easier for clothes than waste or plastics,” I asked how she was handling the heat wave. She described it as fire and humidity “its been very, very hot” I wanted to know about the heatwave in the time of inflation. She answered it was the same “I drink water, have a shower and do not dry my body, drink ice lollies and place my pillows and pj in the freezer, I picked this particular building so I can leave my windows open and during winter I ordered a standing fan as it was on a discount sale like I do every two years” these tips according to her keep her living expenses on the same threshold as it was. The most frustrating part of the heat wave is having to go to work in this heat.

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For Olamide, a 34-year-old Nigerian doctor who has been in the U.K. for the past 3 years, this has been the first official heatwave since she moved as a health worker and the most annoying period for her so far, “which is saying a lot since I moved during the pandemic. Then we were all learning about a new disease and everyone was careful with the heatwave everyone is out and doing almost everything they have been advised against”. According to her “I was out of the U.K. for the first two weeks of July. I felt it was time to go on my vacation, and I’m not going to lie; I had a blast in Dubai, it was hot but enjoyment was the goal. To my shock, I came back, and the U.K. is hotter than ever. This becomes more terrible when you factor in people’s horrible personal hygiene issues and the spike in patients experiencing symptoms of dehydration or heat strokes.

It’s interesting how my friends and I are thriving, though; we try to stay hydrated and go easy on everything. My friend that just moved went jogging and almost passed out, but since then, he does a simple workout routine and knows better to dismiss this as just sun. I have seen so many elderly patients this week. In a way, it reminds me of my Nysc days in Jos and I miss Nigeria a bit, at least air conditioning is a small luxury there.

We might agree that it might be more than just the sun when cars begin to burn, flight runways start to melt, and people die of heat strokes, so we made a list of tips to follow:

Hydration matters: drink as much as you can around the clock and set reminders on your phone for this.
Light clothing and sunscreen help but limiting exposure is best
Monitor your heart rate during strenuous activities
Dial 111 for non-emergency assistance the moment anything out of the ordinary happens during a heatwave
The refrigerator is your friend, especially for water, your pillow or a towel

Good luck and may the tides be in your favor!

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