With the current heat wave expected to last until September, parents, especially those with young children, are adjusting their activities, clothing choices and food and liquid intake so they can manage the heat and keep everyone healthy.
Last month, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) said the southwest monsoon, which began on May 15, is set to continue until September, bringing less rainfall. This means many areas in the country will be experiencing more dry days.
Stay-at-home mother Khoo Ee Fun, 43 says his only son, Joshua Jeremy Liew, seven, brings two handheld mini fans to school to cool him down.
"He has eczema, and the hot weather exacerbates his symptoms. It's itchy for him because he sweats a lot in this weather," she says, adding that he applies lotion and cream before school to minimise the symptoms.
"Sometimes, I wish public schools have extra fans for this searingly hot weather. I'm sure it gets very hot and uncomfortable during lessons for all the pupils, not just my son" she says.
At home in Puchong Hartamas, Khoo switches on the air-conditioner for more hours and Liew eats more fruits for hydration. Logistics analyst Pamela Dass, 41, who lives in Klang, encourages her five children – Darla, 12, Darlene, nine, Daphne, eight, Darilyn, five, and Noah, two – to shower frequently and drink more water.
Midwife and staff nurse Farah Hazwanee Hamdan, 36, agrees that providing proper ventilation is important while staying at home.
"My four children also drink more fluid, like juice, soup and plain water and they shower more often too, so their bodies are cooler," she says.
Going out less
Farah Hazwanee says when she takes her children – Alyssa Qasrina, 12, Afshee Qistina, eight, Aidan Qushayyi, five and Arsen Quaden, four – to the park on weekend mornings, they return home by 9am.
"I allow outdoor activities but they have to depend on timing," says the mother who stays in Gelugor, Pulau Pinang. "Park visit in the afternoon is only after 6pm. It's still too hot to go out earlier,"
Mother-of-two Manjit Kaur from Seremban says her family has also cut down on going out due to hot weather.
"And when we do, it's usually only for quick trips to the night market to buy groceries, fruits or food," When his son, Prabhnaam Singh, seven, wants to cycle, she allows him to do so in their garden or porch, to avoid excessive exposure to the sun and heat.
"For last week's school holidays, we rented an inflatable pool for them to play in. Prabhnaam goes for his swimming classes weekly, so that helps him beat the heat. However, his hockey classes are cancelled for now, due to the hot weather," says the stay-at-home mom.
Khoo's family also spends shorter time at the park and they plan their outing early in the morning before it gets hot. "When we go out to eat, we choose restaurants with air-conditioning,"
Pamela says her family has also cut down on playground trips. "We only go in late afternoon, maybe 6.30pm, when I feel the day is a bit cooler,"
Drink more water
To maintain good hydration, Khoo says she asks Liew to drink more water.
"I think everyone should eat more fruits, drink more water and have soupy dishes as meals during this hot spell. Chinese herbal drinks work too so you feel cooler,"
Manjit says on top drinking more water, she gives her children yoghurt and ice cream, the latter only once in a while.
"I also serve them cold drinks like chrysanthemum tea and strawberry-flavoured milk. Sometimes, I make banana milk shake for them and my husband prepares watermelon juice, lime drink, lassi and coconut water,"
She dresses them in light clothing too. "It's mostly sleeveless and shorts for them for now," says Manjit, whose other child is Sehajnaam Kaur, two.
"The kids have also switched from their long-sleeved pyjamas to short-sleeved T-shirt and long pants to go to bed in at night.
For Pamela, yoghurt and watermelon help keep her kids cool. "The whole family eat lighter meals now. Instead of rice and curry for instance, some days we eat sandwiches or crepes. We feeling lighter and less sluggish afterwards,"
What parents can do
Farah Hazwanee says parents can monitor their children's temperature to make sure they are normal and to prevent high spikes due to fever.
"Adequate fluid intake and good ventilation are key. I think parents can use air-conditioner, but it's not a must, as long as there is good ventilation at home," she says.
Manjit says it's important for parents to keep themselves hydrated so they can better look after their children.
"Wear light, thin clothes indoor. If you can't have outdoor activities, do something interesting at home with your children so they don't feel cooped up since you don't go out often," she adds.