Five ways to handle the heat

Ming Yew: We need to make conscious effort to keep ourselves hydrated, safe and fit.

Survival tips in face of ongoing heatwave, looming El Nino

“IT’S so hot!” is pretty much on the minds and lips of most Malaysians these days.

Indeed, the weather has been particularly unbearable in recent months, with the mercury hovering between 35°C and 37°C in many parts of the country, and even reaching 38.4°C in Negri Sembilan.

One can only imagine primary school pupils having to carry bags laden with books in the sweltering heat. The “torture” doesn’t end there, as they have to pay attention in classes not equipped with air conditioners.

The story repeats itself for many students all over Malaysia, including me.

The heatwave has also left me in beads of perspiration at night. Since my room does not have an air conditioner, there’s little escape from the discomfort.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department issues a Level 1 heatwave warning when temperatures hover between 35°C and 37°C for three consecutive days in a location.

The dangers of a heatwave are real. In April, a seven-month-old toddler from Kota Baru and an 11-year-old boy from Bachok, both in Kelantan, died of heatstroke.

Compounding the situation is the imminent El Nino weather phenomenon, which experts predict will extend until October. As of 2015, El Nino has hit the country 12 times, with the first occurring between 1951 and 1952, and the worst between 1997 and 1998. In the latter occurrence, the temperature rose to a record 40.1°C in Chuping, Perlis.

With the weather not likely to record cooler temperatures anytime soon, we need to make conscious effort to keep ourselves hydrated, safe and fit.

1. Drink more water, less caffeine

Not enough can be said about the importance of drinking water. Being sufficiently hydrated helps keep our body temperatures down.

If you are a coffee or tea lover, cut down on your consumption of these drinks as caffeine can advance dehydration. The same goes for soft drinks and alcohol, as well.

2. Take vitamin C

Staying healthy by nourishing your body with sufficient vitamins is necessary. You can take fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C or opt for supplements.

3. Stay indoors

Stay indoors as much as possible and wear sunscreen when you are out. Excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can reduce the body’s capability of cooling down. Wear lighter clothing with lighter shades of colour, too, as they absorb less heat.

4. Keep windows shut

Close the windows during the day when it is hot and open them when it is cooler at night. Simple acts like this can help reduce room temperature.

5. Avoid outdoor activities

Reduce participation in activities that are fairly strenuous like sports. There are many ways you can keep fit without going out, such as doing yoga at home.

Ming Yew, 17, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to

Now that you have read the article, test your understanding by carrying out the following English language activities.

1 There are many adjectives that can be used to describe the weather. Challenge your activity partner to come up with a list of these adjectives within 60 seconds. When the time is up, go through each other’s lists.

2 What are your own five ways of handling the current hot weather? Present your tips in the form of a poster, using words and pictures from today’s copy of the Sunday Star newspaper. How similar or different are your survival tips compared to Ming Yew’s?

The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme promotes the use of English language in primary and secondary schools nationwide. For Star-NiE enquiries, email

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Brats , Star-NiE


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