•How to survive abnormal hot weather, by experts
By Cosmas Omegoh
Many Nigerians are having a rough patch, dealing with the scourge of the moment – a terrible heat wave sweeping across the land like a hurricane.
An expert calls it an abnormal rise in temperature. The menace is keeping everyone on edge, with children and the aged getting the short end of the stick.
A medical expert, who attributed the phenomenon to climate change, has advised everyone to drink plenty water to stay off trouble. He, however, predicted that a few deaths might follow if the scenario persists and if the rains fail to come soon.
Right now, temperature across the country is rising highly and many are finding it a handful to deal with. At all times of the day, room temperature appears to exceed the known normal threshold, thus making people to feel ill at ease. The scenario reaches its worst levels at night, making many people to feel unbearably hot and to sweat excessively. Children and infants are at the mercy of this new weather regime. Even older ones are feeling its impact.
In Lagos, and probably in most towns and cities across the country, some families now sleep in the open for fear of the onslaught of the weather condition. Some prefer to stay outdoors till late into the night while struggling to fight off rampaging mosquitoes. Many now sleep on bare floors in their rooms to cool their body temperature. But sometimes, that does not still help them from perspiring profusely. Some even take a shower as many as two to three times before dawn.
The people’s anguish is further fueled by the now persistent drop in power supply. Most communities can’t boast of an hour of uninterrupted power supply on daily basis. Worse still, many who have their own private power generating sets, no longer have access to petrol to power them. Most people are, painfully, having to endure persistent power outages at nights. Those who have air conditioners can no longer use them. Even fans, which many are privileged to have, appear useless in the face of abnormal rises in temperature. So, life at night for most people is next to living in hell, with those living in apartments with little ventilation at the risk of diseases, one of which is meningitis.
“Each time I get home every evening after the close of work, I’m always consumed by this fear that power will not be available for the night,” a woman, Franca told Daily Sun. “It is awfully hot at night times these days. Nothing compares to how it feels. You return home to darkness and a dreadful hot weather that will not let anyone sleep. It is horrible!
“There is hardly a night I don’t wake up once or twice to bathe. With the dreadful heat causing everyone to perspire terribly one can hardly sleep. Just imagine the beads of sweat that accumulate all over your body while you are asleep and some that even trickle down, keeping you uncomfortable. It is terrible,” she stated with a shrug.
For the Idehen family resident in Surulere area of Lagos, life is no less difficult, no thanks to the current weather condition. Speaking to Daily Sun, the Ihehen patriarch, Osaro, said: “The times are terrible. Ours is a two-room apartment and we hardly get enough air at night. With the torment of the weather, we are having rough times.
“For us to stay away from this menace, it is either we bathe as many times as possible before dawn or stay outdoors to cool our bodies. Life could have been better if we have mosquito treated net to sleep in. But we have none. So we also have the incessant attacks of mosquitoes to contend with.”
A lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Dr Emmanuel Ege, said the latest weather regime is normal and will persist until the onset of the rains.
“Mean temperature is always high between February and April every year. In April, temperature is bound to go down once the rains set in. So, what people are going through at the moment is momentary discomfort, which will phase out in the days ahead. The rains might begin to fall either early in April or later. And when we begin to see the rains, surely the temperature will drop.
“It is not out of place for people to feel hot at this moment of the season when the temperature hits its all-time high. This could be worsened by lack of power in most homes which makes people unable to use their electrical appliances.”
However, a lecturer in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Federal University of Technology Owerri, (FUTO), Dr. Didacus John Njoku, has attributed the rising heat wave to increased human activities that contribute to the release of Green House Gases (GHG).
His words: “Green House Gases are active ingredients in the warming of the atmosphere. When excessive carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it cannot go skywards. It remains with us at the lower level, thus causing what we call Green House Effect.
“Unfortunately, we human are wiping out our forested areas and replacing them with built-up areas. While our forested areas are getting smaller, our built-up areas are getting bigger.
“Now, there is increase in human population with everybody releasing GHG. This brings about heat waves, since the forested areas which moderate the gases are now growing smaller. Now, when we breathe out carbon dioxide, where does it go from here? This comes back to us as hot air in motion, which is wind.”
Similarly, a medical practitioner, Dr Wilson Imongang, a former Commissioner for Health in Edo State, has attributed the situation to global warming. The phenomenon, he said, was due to a rise in sea temperature following the constant melting of polar ice as a result of regular global warming through incidents like bush burning and other human activities. “This is why in some places we now have excess heat which is above the normal level. Normal room temperature for instance is 27 C, but now, it has hit 30 C. That is why most places,, especially in the tropics are hot. And don’t forget that we are living in the tropics.
“For us, what that means is that our bodies are having difficulty adjusting to the new temperature condition. It is not good enough for the older people who have attained 80 years and beyond. Everyone is sweating and losing water. This is time most people pass less urine because the kidney has to regulate the body water available to it. That is why in cold season, people urinate more but pass less urine during hot weather.
“Now, the danger in the kidney regulating body water is that people pass less urine. What that means is that more urine, which is a waste product, is being concentrated in the body. So that is why we are encouraging people to drink a lot of water.
“If anyone can generate their own electricity to power their air conditioners, that will be fine. But these days, even fans are no longer useful, as they often blow hot air. That is why we are encouraging everyone to drink a lot of water to replace lost fluid.”
He stated that although heat wave might not be severe to cause enormous problems, it could sometimes be deadly, recalling that in Europe and America, people often die because their bodies cannot regulate the temperature.
“Here in the country, a few deaths may occur. But there is nothing to panic about. We encourage people to take regular baths as a way of fighting the challenge. However, this may have to persist until the rains begin to fall.”
On the long run, one way of mitigating the effect of the heat wave, according to Dr Njoku is for every one to heed the call to plant trees.
“We have to begin to get back to the basics,” he said. “We have to return to the era of planting trees. It might surprise everyone to note that a young tree consumes twice more carbon dioxide than an older one. So we have to begin to plant more trees so as to build a vegetative cover around us. We have to create a scenario where young trees will begin to moderate the heat that is now ravaging us.”
He also encouraged Nigerians to consume more fluid at moments like these to stay hydrated, adding that it is also good to wear light clothes that could let in fresh air into the body.