The Canary Islands are known to be sought above all for the favorable and warm climate throughout the year. But what happens when the calima phenomenon is added to the already high temperatures?
To start, when we talk about calima we refer to a storm of particles (dust, sand, clay) of variable size suspended in the atmosphere, which comes from the Sahara desert thanks to the Scirocco, a typical south-east wind of the Mediterranean.
The characteristics of this phenomenon are the oppressive and warm hood of dust combined with an annoying wind that carries these tiny solid bodies in the air.
The two main factors that make us understand that the calima has arrived (if they haven’t already given the alert from the AEMET State Agency of Meteorology) are the reduced visibility, due to the visual obstacle of the particles, and the appearance of discomfort to the eyes, nose and throat; if it lasts longer, often more serious symptoms such as bronchospasms or asthma appear due to dryness of the respiratory tract and its inflammation.
Being conditioned by changes in atmospheric pressure, usually the calima is eliminated by a strong wind or rain, which free the atmosphere from dust and clean the air.
The subjects most at risk in case of strong and prolonged calima are children, elderly and patients with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, although in general it creates more or less annoying irritations in any person, although often tourists don’t realize the effects because they are not subjected to its continued action over time.
What can we do to protect ourselves from the calima and the damage it can cause?
- If possible avoid going out and, if necessary, avoid direct sunlight by looking for shade areas or cool places to take a break. In any case, try to leave early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the heat wave.
- During a walk, wear light-colored clothes and a hat that protects the head from a possible heat stroke; if possible also a mask to protect the mucous membranes from the action of dust.
- Stay in the most protected areas from the sun and in the coolest room of the house, with doors and windows closed during the day, to avoid the accumulation of corpuscles on the furnishings.
- Lower the shutters during the day, to avoid excessive heating of the rooms, and open the windows during the night to cool them.
- Eliminate the dust that is deposited in the house with damp cloths, to avoid that its presence irritates the mucous membranes while remaining indoors.
- Use fans and air conditioning to humidify the air, to the extent that they don’t create a too large temperature difference between the interior and exterior.
- Always carry water and drink often, as the climate becomes dry and arid, facilitating the production of sweat, so there is a high risk of dehydration.
- Have a light, fat-free diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which restore water and mineral salt levels lost through sweating. Avoid taking alcoholic beverages, which are strongly dehydrating, very hot foods and high-calorie foods.
- Do not stay for a long time in tight and closed places, such as car cabins or uninsulated buildings.
- Avoid prolonged exercise outdoors during the day and physical activity in general during the hottest part of the day.
We leave the rest to common sense and basic civic standards. I always advise you to consult a doctor if you take medicines that interfere with the ability to regulate body temperature or if you have some of the symptoms mentioned above or others that can be traced back to the calima.
It is also important to help those who need it most. If you see a child, adult, or elderly person in distress, stop by for help. Do not leave your family members in disadvantaged conditions alone, or if you can not stay with them, at least try to visit them daily to make sure they are healthy.
If you are tourists and you are in the Canary Islands in a period of calima, just follow these simple rules to avoid the risk of ruining your holiday and to enjoy the most of all the wonders that this archipelago can give you.
Flavia from Flavia’s MIND.
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