Staying Cool When It is Hot

As I write it is unusually hot and humid–and summer has only just begun! One week ago our area was surprised by a violent thunderstorm that downed many trees and cause well over 400,000 in our county to go without power for a few hours to almost one week. As temperatures remained very high, the county set up cooling centers for those who had lost power or had no air conditioning.

Would you be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses? Heat problems can strike anyone, but those most vulnerable are young children and the elderly.

Here are five things you can do to survive a summer heat wave if you do not have air conditioning–or if it is hot and the power goes off for an extended period:

  1. Maintain adequate hydration. You need to drink more water than you usually do when it is very hot. The color of your urine can be a useful guide to your level of hydration–unless you are taking certain vitamin supplements or some medications. A very light yellow generally indicates adequate hydration.
  2. Move downstairs. A basement can be a cool refuge from hot temperatures, since heat rises.
  3. Avoid the extra sources of heat. TV’s, computers, unnecessary appliances, incandescent light bulbs all generate heat. Avoid cooking and baking unless necessary.
  4. Beware of large, protein-rich meals. These kinds of meals tend to warm the body by increasing metabolic rate (heat). Focus on fresh fruits and veggies.
  5. Use the cooling power of water. Wet towels and head wraps can add to the natural evaporative cooling of sweat. Taking a cool shower or bath will help. Try spritzing your face with a spray bottle of cool water from time to time. Let the kids go play in the sprinkler, and join them too!

Stay cool, safe and healthy this summer!