A drought is a period of time when an area or region experiences long periods of time with little or no precipitation such as rain, snow, or sleet. In Kenya, drought is estimated to occur once every three years. That statistic is actually worse than it sounds. A single wave of drought has the ability to wipe out a whole population. Most natural water sources dry up putting pressure on the few available boreholes and dwindling water cans. In 2011, for example, a quarter of a million people died and vast herds of livestock were wiped out.
Kenya is a highly drought-prone country because of its peculiar Eco-climatic conditions. The root cause of the country’s vulnerability to drought is its sole dependence on rainfall for its economic and social development. Agriculture, for example, the mainstay of the economy, is almost entirely dependent on rainfall.
Drought can last for months or years, therefore we need to implement measures to help keep safe during a drought. Below is a round-up of ways you can take care of yourself when a dry spell hits.
Indoor and Outdoor Water Conservation
Drought is characterized by a lack of precipitation such as rain and snow. It only makes sense to conserve as much water as we can for future use. Indoor water conservation tips during a drought include:
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily
- Take shorter showers instead of baths
- Avoid leaving the water running when brushing teeth or shaving
- Handwash dishes with 2 containers. One with soap and the other to rinse them off
- Avoid cleaning vegetables with running water. Instead, use a can and then reuse the water to water plants
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator
Some outdoor water conservation tips include:
- Use commercial carwashes that recycle water
- Water plants and lawn only when needed
- Adjust sprinklers to ensure only the lawn is watered and not the house
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Water helps to regulate body temperature therefore drinking a glass or two a few hours before leaving the house goes a long way in helping your body stay hydrated. While drinking plain water is best for dehydration, other drinks and foods can help. Fruits and vegetable juices, milk, and herbal teas add to the fluids the body needs in a day.
Wear Loose, Light-Weight, Light-Colored Clothing
Any fabric that allows heat to evaporate more easily usually feels cooler. Light-colored clothing is recommended mainly because they reflect most of the visible wavelengths which, in turn, absorb less heat. Dark clothes on the other hand absorb more wavelengths, absorbing more heat.
Wear loose clothing that allows air to pass along the skin and exit, speeding evaporation and carrying off excess heat. Fabric like cotton, bamboo, linen, rayon, and chambray that allows for airflow are best.
Take Cool Showers or Baths
Taking a cold shower after being in the sun for a long goes a long way in keeping the body cool. You may feel a bit cold for a while as the body adjusts to the temperature change but an instant relief afterward. Cold showers have been linked to anti-inflammatory benefits and elevating mood. As cold water hits the skin, it constricts circulation on the surface of your body. This causes blood in deeper tissues of the body to circulate faster, to maintain ideal body temperature.
Avoid High-Energy Outdoor Activities
As temperatures are soaring, your body energy levels are probably at a low. High-energy outdoor activities put extra stress on your body. If you do not take it down a notch you could risk serious health-related problems such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When the body is overworked in hot weather, it sends more blood to circulate near the skin leaving less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate, raising overall body temperature even more. Avoid exercising during drought to prevent your body’s cooling system from failing.
Moisturize Your Skin
A skincare routine when temperatures are soaring will prevent your skin from drying out and restore hydration after long periods in the sun. Some of the ways you can prevent skin drought include:
- Moisturize in the morning
- Moisturize and hydrate at night
- Wear lip balm
- Use only gentle, fragrance-free skincare products
- Wear gloves
- Replace lotion with ointment
- Apply moisturizer immediately after washing your hands
- Drink plenty of water
Reflective insulation also known as foil insulation is a material with a reflective facing that blocks the heat radiating from the sun onto your rooftop through your attic into your living space. Like any other insulation, reflective radiation helps reduce energy costs while keeping your home cooler and comfortable.
Cover Windows With Drapes or Shades
Having proper window coverings during drought and keeping them closed during the day will help keep your home cool and comfortable. To keep the heat out, opt for medium-colored draperies with light-colored plastic backings to reduce the sunlight entering your home, and becoming heat. Window shades are also a great way to beat the heat during drought. These shades control natural light while giving a layer of privacy to your home.
Find Shade if You Are Outside
Finding shade after long hours under the sun is a great way to give the body a cooling break. Prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays increases your risk of skin cancer, heat strokes, and heat exhaustion. You can also take this chance to drink a glass or two of water to keep the body and skin hydrated.
Don’t Ignore Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
It is very important to know the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to respond to them. Contact your doctor if you feel sick and need medical attention.
Signs of Heat Stokes
- High body temperature
- Hot, dry, or damp skin with no sweat
- Dizziness, disorientation, unconsciousness
- Fast, strong pulse
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
- Heavy sweating
- Pale or clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle pains
- Spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs