Heat wave: Abuja women abandon wigs for low cut hair

Women Affairs and Social Development, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye.


By Folasade Akpan

As the weather condition gets harsher with the temperature going as high as 40 degrees Celsius sometimes, many women in Abuja have abandoned their wigs and opt for low cut hair.

For some of them, wigs remain fashion items that should be seasonal and so they can do without them for now in order to cope with the very hot weather occasioned by climate change.

Mrs Titilope Ariyo, a businesswoman, said that though her husband forbade her from cutting her hair, she had to do it to brace the present weather condition.

“He actually threatened to send me back to my parents’ house if I cut my hair because he does not believe women should cut their hair, but I had to because I need to be pouring water on this head.

“I promised to grow the hair back when the weather condition improves but I seriously do not know if I will be able to keep that promise.

“However, it’s a really good experience just pouring water on my head whenever I want to because I feel it in the whole body”, she added.

As for Mrs Joy Kaka, a journalist, being on low cut was because she was losing her hair and needed to cut it to treat it.

However, cutting it during the heat season was a very good decision as it aligned with her need to cope with the weather.

“I went on low-cut because I was seriously losing the hair and decided to start over again but now I don’t think I will grow the hair again because I’m enjoying it.

“I bathe and pour water on my head now and it’s a beautiful feeling because the heat is terrible. Not forgetting that it’s cheap. Usually I love using wigs so I make corn rows frequently and use my wigs.

“However, lately even the corn rows aren’t cheap and I use to make them weekly before I cut my hair.”

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) had since February predicted a prolonged heat wave across the country.

In some periodic weather outlook releases, the agency had said that air temperatures in the Northern part of the country would climb to as high as 41°C and 39°C in the South, indicating a significant increase in heatwave.

It had warned that the high level of heat could cause dehydration, heat-related illnesses and respiratory issues, among other chronic conditions.

It also forecast that residents of some states were likely to experience sunstroke, muscle cramps and heat exhaustion.

The agency emphasised the importance of staying well-hydrated and avoiding strenuous physical activities, especially between the hours of noon and 4pm.

It also advised the public to stay well hydrated and reduce strenuous physical activities during the peak hours.

Speaking the impact of the heat wave on health, Dr Henry Ewunonu, a physician and health advocate, blamed the situation on climate change.

This, he said, was because humans have damaged the ozone layer which now has holes which allows more radiation from the sun to penetrate the earth.

He said that humans continue to do so through burning of fossil fuels and other unwholesome anti-climate activities such as deforestation and generation of biologic wastes.

However, excessive hot weather is antithetical to health.

According to him, an overheated body can be likened to any overheated gadget or device such as car, mobile phones or computer.

“It is either they are immediately cooled to salvage some functionality or they get permanently damaged. Likewise all living organisms suffer motor-cognitive, multi-systemic impairments due to excessive hot weather.

“This excessive heat according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is above 35°C and when above 42°C, life may no longer be guaranteed.

“Excessive hot temperature which leads to overheating of the body systems including the human brain may account for abnormal behaviour among the most vulnerable populations who work under very strenuous environmental conditions.

“Such conditions include transport workers, petty traders, even the traffic/law enforcement agents.

“When people say “him head dey hot”, it refers to abnormal behaviour occasioned by heat under the circumstance”, he added.

Ewunonu also said that excessive hot weather adversely affects those with preexisting cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension and other heart diseases, respiratory illness such as bronchial asthma, renal diseases and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

He said that this happens due to excessive water loss from the body making the blood to be thicker, exerting a burden on the heart and reducing the elimination of wastes through urine as the body struggles to conserve available water.

According to him, such a situation puts extra load on the kidney.

“Hot environmental temperature leads to what they call higher insensible water loss through the airways and skin.

“The body is however equipped with a great thermostat system but which functions at a temperature range of around 37°C.

“This thermostat fails in the face of excessive hot weather and the consequences such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death may ensue”, he said.

He said solution to heat wave starts with humans reducing the production of carbon dioxide gas which is the main culprit.

This, he said, could be done through alternative energy sources aside hydrocarbons, use of solar inverter batteries rather than fuel generators, avoiding bush burning and curbing felling of trees.

As for the roles of individuals, families, communities, the society and government at all levels, he said that a whole-of-society approach was much needed to save humanity.

“Individuals should avoid the direct effects of the sun hitting their skins and entering their homes during the day and let air in at night, save for insecurity.

“Heat stroke will kill faster than malaria, so families are encouraged to open their windows to allow cooler air to aerate their homes.

“They shouldn’t cook inside their living rooms and if possible not sleep where there are many heat generating household equipment such as refrigerators.

“People should endeavour to begin their days earlier as situations permit so as to be under the cover of a shade and not under the scorching sun of the daytime, while those living in rocky mountain environments should take extra care.”

Ewunonu said that the rocks absorb the heat in the day and release to them through convection currents and radiation at night so people should use water either for bathing or drinking very generously.

He advised that people should continue pouring water on their bodies to remain cooler.

Also, that the government should be more frontal in confronting the energy crises because as long as everyone is operating their generator sets, the environmental temperature would remain high.

“The above has also explained why some ladies are cutting their hair and abandoning wigs. It’s a natural adaptation or conditioning response to the hot weather

“There is one junk being posted that pouring water on the head or starting to bath from the head region causes stroke. That has been debunked.

“Now, because people are not the same and what works for one does not work for another, every adult should study his or her body to know how best to keep the body cooler during those hot afternoons and nights’’, he said.

While women cut their hair to beat heat Dr Ezekiel Edino, Medical Director, General Hospital, Igbokoda, Ondo state also advises them to take other measures.

“It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially when exercising or spending time in hot weather. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of dehydration, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible.

“To remain hydrated this time, it is important we do more fruits and vegetables intake, wear light clothing, avoid overcrowded and congested environment” he said.

Folasade Akpan writes for the News Agency of Nigeria

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