Dealing with the Tropical Climate in Phuket
The climate in Phuket is not something that most visitors will be used to. In fact it is often the change in climate that attracts people to such an exotic destination in the first place. Those who are arriving from colder countries will not usually be used to intensity of the sun on the island. This lack of knowledge combined with the desire to go home with a tan can lead these individuals into trouble. Thailand is located in the planet’s tropical zone. This means that it is sunny and hot for most of the year. Even during the cool season it will still be hot enough to lie down on the beach and get and soak up the sun’s rays.
Dangers of Excessive Sun Exposure
The dangers of over-exposure to the sun are real and people can develop problems easily. Not only can too much sun lead to immediate problems, but it can also put the individual at risk of long term issues. The dangers of excessive sun exposure include:
- One of the most common dangers that people experience is sun burn. This occurs because the individual has allowed the sun’s ultraviolet rays to come in contact with the skin for too long.
- When people have been exposed to the sun for too long it can cause them to develop sun stroke. This means that the body has been forced to deal with more heat than it can manage, and it can become a life threatening situation.
- Too much sun tends to make people feel irritable and this can spoil their holiday.
- Over exposure to the sun can caused people to become confused and lightheaded. This can mean that they are in danger of accidents.
Symptoms of Sun Stroke
The words sun stroke and heat stroke are used interchangeably. It means that the person has been exposed to prolonged extremes of heat. This interferes with the body’s ability to function normally, and the person begins to experience symptoms. If the situation is not dealt with immediately the individual could die. This is why sun stroke is considered a medical emergency and the person should be taken to hospital right away. The symptoms of heat stroke can include:
- A headache that is usually described as throbbing in nature.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- The individual feels dizzy and lightheaded
- The person is hot but they have stopped sweating.
- Their heart is beating fast – although their pulse may feel quite weak.
- The individual has lost consciousness
- The person appears confused and disorientated
- Their skin appears dry and hot
- They stagger when they try to walk
- Their breathing has become rapid and shallow
- They are behaving strangely
The priority with sun stroke is getting the person to hospital right away, but there are also recommended first aid steps that can be taken including:
- Get the person out of the sun and preferably into an air conditioned environment if they are waiting on transport to take them to hospital.
- Remove any unnecessary clothing.
- A cool shower can help bring the body temperature down.
- Ice packs can be applied to different parts of the individual’s body including under their armpits or anywhere else that has a rich blood supply.
- Fan their body or hose them down with water.
Dangers of Sun Burn
Sun burn is unpleasant and dangerous for a number of reasons including:
- It can be extremely uncomfortable. The person can feel as if their whole skin is on fire.
- Sun burn can become life threatening if it is too excessive – it can lead to a second degree burn.
- The ultraviolet light can also damage the eyes and it may be one of the reasons for why people develop age related macular degeneration – the most common reason for why people lose their eyesight as they get older.
- It greatly increases the risk of developing skin cancer. It can also cause other types of tumor to appear on the skin.
How Thai People Protect Themselves from the Sun
If people want to protect themselves from the sun they can benefit from copying the behavior of the locals. Thai people rarely suffer from negative aspects of living in such a climate because:
- The locals are adept at making the best use of any available shade. This means that they can move around while minimizing exposure to ultraviolet rays.
- It is fairly common for Thai people to carry an umbrella with them because it offers some protection from the sun.
- There is a famous saying popularized by Noel Coward about mad dogs and Englishmen in the noonday sun. It is best to follow the example of Thai people and avoid spending time outdoors during those times of the day when the sun is strongest.
- Thai people tend to avoid rushing around during the daytime. This more laid back attitude is sensible because moving fast further increases body heat – in other words if people are rushing around in the sun they increase their risk of heat stroke.
Other Important Advice for Avoiding the Dangers of the Sun
Thai people are better suited to dealing with the local sun. This is not only because they are used to it but also because they have no interest in lying in the sun to get a tan. Many of the westerners who do arrive on Phuket want to go home with a healthy color so they will want to spend a bit of time soaking up the sun’s rays. They can do this more safely if they:
- It is recommended that people use an appropriate sun screen lotion. It is better to have a lotion that offers more protection than less.
- People need to limit their exposure to the sun and avoid lying on the beach at those times when the sun is at its strongest.
- It is a bad idea to drink alcohol while lying in the sun. This increases the risk of heat stroke.
- People need to make sure that they regularly drink non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks if they are outside in the sun.
- If people want to go home with a sun tan they will need to build this up over time. Sun burn is not the same as a healthy tan.
- It is possible to become burnt by the sun even when it is cloudy outside. This means that the individual should always take precautions when they go outside during the day.
How to Deal with Sunburn
If people do become sun burnt there are things they can do that will lessen their discomfort such as:
- Avoid any further exposure to the sun.
- Aloe vera is a natural way to ease the discomfort of sun burn. It is usually possible to buy some of this gel on the beaches in Phuket – particularly the busier beaches.
- A cool shower can offer temporary relief from the discomfort.
- It is possible to use after sun lotions to ease the pain.
- Over the counter pain medication may be beneficial.
- It is best to wear loose fitting clothing until after the sun burn has settled down.
- If the individual feels physically unwell or the sun burn appears angry red they should see a physician.