From heat stroke to heat exhaustion and brain fuzz, the heat this week has made it hard to focus on work.
Phew, what a scorcher, eh? While it’s nice to see the sun, the high temperatures are really bad news for many people. Not everyone has access to air conditioning or a fan [or can afford to put them on] and some workplaces are less ventilated, less heat-resistant and unpleasantly hot. Moreover, many people work outdoors in the direct line of the sun.
Daughter three came home the other day from work experience and collapsed. She had spent an hour and a half on the tube and was feeling similar effects to heatstroke. Or maybe it was a virus, given there are lots circulating, including Covid, of course – although she had that two weeks ago. Every second person I talk to has Covid at the moment and having Covid in the heat must be doubly bad – particularly if you are forced to go into work, as we know some people are.
Trying to make children aware of the dangers of overheating is a challenge. Only son seems to be on the right page. I’ve plied him with water, told him to stay in the shade and the school has at least said the kids don’t have to wear their blazers and ties all day. However, there is no air conditioning or anything to cool down hot classrooms full of sweaty teens and pre-teens. Windows are opened, but some classrooms are less ventilated than others.
Some people complain that it’s just a bit of heat and that we overreact to this kind of thing. Maybe they are living in air-conditioned luxury. 35 degrees and up is not normal and not good for many of us and no-one wants to risk a trip to A & E, particularly at the moment with reports of long waits.
For daughter three I’ve given her extra money to get the overground train. It’s quicker and it has windows. I remember being stuck on a busy tube train in a heatwave a few years ago. The train got stuck in the tunnel and we had to wait about an hour to get moving. Several people fainted. When we emerged there was a whole line of ambulances queued up to take the people who had collapsed.
Then there’s work itself. It’s hard to concentrate on anything when you’re overly hot. Your brain goes a bit fuzzy. People are less productive. That’s why the siesta was invented. No-one works well in the hottest part of the day. Better to elongate the day and have a long pause in the middle if you can. My partner – who is Spanish – swears by the siesta. It’s yet another example of why we need the capacity to flex. With all the challenges we face, from train strikes to climate change problems to pandemics it makes absolute sense for employers to flex so they are prepared for the next hurdle to come – as it most surely will. Who knows – we could be facing flooding by the summer holidays if the recent pattern of August rain sweeps through.
*Picture credit: Wikimedia commons.