My cousin who lives and works out in the Middle East, sent me a message on Monday to let me know that Kuwait had reached the highest temperature ever recorded, and that he was now experiencing an outside temperature of 60 degrees Centigrade. With this message he sent a picture to show how some traffic lights had melted in the heat. His East End humor had not left him though – he informed me that his nipple rings were conducting heat and that he was sizzling!
Our garden thermometer showed 28 degrees on the same day, and that’s quite hot enough for me. This got me to thinking; how do the locals fare I wonder? Are they used to heat like this? Why do people have their nipples pierced? Have I missed out on one of life’s little pleasures?
Nipple rings aside, a 60 degree Centigrade heat is no joke. Here’s what Michael O. Church says about it on Quora:
Our cells start to die around 41°C (106°F) to 45°C (113°F) but we can survive much higher air temperatures: a healthy person could make a day trip to Death Valley on one of its hottest days ( 55°C – 131°F) and so long as he avoided dehydration, would probably not die. In fact, he’d probably be okay as long as he had access to water, preferably stored at a temperature lower than 55°C, because it would actually be painfully hot to the touch at that point. In water, the upper limit seems to be about 50 °C (122 °F) for short-term exposure; even a couple of degrees hotter, first- and second-degree skin burns become possible within minutes, and that’s clearly not a sustainable situation. So while one could theoretically withstand 70 °C air at desert humidity indefinitely, you’d need regular access to a cooler supply of water. Water at the ambient temperature would cause second-degree burns in seconds.
Most deaths in heat waves are from cumulative heat stress (over days and weeks) rather than heat stroke, and that has more to do with long periods of exposure to moderate heat (30-35 °C) than the acute kind. 45 °C will give you heat stroke if you’re dumb enough to go running without bringing water, but you’ll be fine if you stay in the shade, and most of the desert environments capable of such temperatures cool down at night. On the other hand, if you sleep in a concrete building with no air conditioning and the night-time air temperature is still over 30°C, you’re putting your health at risk. Most of these deaths aren’t attributed to heatstroke or even directly tied to heat, but come from natural bodily causes like heart attacks.
I imagine the people of Kuwait are going from one air-conditioned room to another, and then having to run to their air-conditioned car instead of strolling down to the shops. I wonder if it’s possible to become just as Vitamin D deprived in an extremely hot country as it is over here in the UK? We suffer from a lack of sunshine here, but the people of Kuwait have it in abundance. However, it’s just too hot to go out in it, especially with pierced nipples!
Can you stand the heat, or do you get out of the kitchen?