Home >> British Encyclopedia >> Inflammation to Language 1 >> Kamsin

Kamsin

wind, heat, death, hot and days

KAMSIN, the name of a hot southerly wind, common in Egypt. The wind is said to prevail more or less for fifty days, hence it is called " the wind of fifty days." Travellers, who have experienced the ef fect of it, have described it as a poison ous wind. When it begins to blow, the atmosphere assumes an alarming appear ance. The sky, at other times so clear in this climate, becomes dark and heavy ; the sun loses its splendour, and appears of a violet colour ; the air is not cloudy, but grey and thick, and is filled with a dust so subtile, that it penetrates every where.

This wind, always light and rapid, is not at first remarkably hot, but it increases in heat in proportion as it continues. All animated bodies soon discover it by the change it produces in them. The lungs, which a too rarefied air no longer expands, are contracted, and become painful. Re spiration is short and difficult, the skin parched and dry, and the body consumed by an internal heat. In vain is recourse had to large draughts of water ; nothing can restore perspiration. In vain is cool ness sought for ; all bodies, in which it is usual to find it, deceive the hand that touches them. Marble, iron, water, not withstanding the sun no longer appears, are hot. The streets are deserted, and the dead silence of night reigns every where. The inhabitants of towns and villages shut themselves up in their houses, and those of the desert in their tents, or in wells dug in the earth, where they wait the termination of this destruc tive heat. It usually lasts three days, but

if it exceeds that time it becomes insup portable. The danger is most imminent when it blows in squalls ; for then the rapidity of the wind increases the heat to such a degree as to cause sudden death. This death is a real suffocation. The lungs being empty are convulsed, the circulation is disordered, and the whole mass of blood driven by the heat towards the head and breast; whence the hxmorr hage at the nose and mouth, which hap pens after death. This wind is especially destructive to persons of a plethoric habit, and those in whom fatigue has destroyed the tone of the muscles and the, vessels. The corpse remains a long time warm, swells, turns blue, and soon becomes putrid. These accidents are to be avoided by stopping the nose and mouth with handkerchiefs. An efficacious method, likewise, is that practised by the camels. On this occasion these animals bury their noses in the sand, and keep them there till the squall is over. Another quality of this wind is its extreme aridity ; which is such, that water sprinkled on the floor evaporates in a few minutes. By the ex treme dryness it withers and strips all the plants ; and by exhaling too suddenly the emanations from animal bodies, crisps the skin, closes the pores, and causes that feverish heat which is the constant effect of suppressed perspiration.