Beat the summer heat and prevent heat-related illness with these tips

by KATE EVANS

The summer heat can be brutal outdoors and indoors especially when you add high humidity into the mix.   Keep in mind the following information and tips so you and your family can stay cool and safe in extremely hot weather.

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials say that people 65 years old and older, children younger than two years old and individuals with chronic diseases and mental illness are at the highest risk of heat-related illnesses. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable.

Factors in body cooling

High humidity prevents sweat from evaporating as quickly and keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it needs to. You can get sick from the heat because your body can’t cool off properly.

Other factors that can create problems with proper body cooling in extreme heat include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn and prescription drug and alcohol use, according to CDC information.

Older adults

Older adults don’t adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature and are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes their normal body responses to heat. They are also more likely to take prescription medications that affect their body’s ability to sweat or cool itself.

Tips to stay cool

The CDC, AccuWeather and other websites shared these steps to stay cool and hydrated and avoid heat-related illness:

Drink more water than you usually do and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping can be an early sign of heat-related illness.

Keep some frozen water bottles on hand. They can serve as an instant ice pack to cool you down or as cold drinking water as they melt.

AccuWeather says to mist your face with a little spray bottle to cool off like one you’d use to mist your plants. A cool damp towel or handkerchief placed around your neck or wrist will also make you feel cooler.

Outdoors

If you’re working or playing outdoors, drink water frequently, pace yourself and take frequent breaks to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke or heat cramps.

Wear loose, light-colored, lightweight clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton. Wear sunscreen and reapply it according to directions. Do outside work when temperatures are coolest. Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is the hottest.

If on a sports team, hold workouts and practices early or later in the day when temperatures are cooler. Monitor a teammate’s condition and have them watch out for you too. Get medical care immediately if you or a teammate show signs of heat-related illness.

Danger signs of heat stroke can include profuse sweating, an elevated body temperature, dizziness, confusion, extreme weakness and slurred speech.

Indoors

Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as you can when it’s extremely hot. If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned or inside an air-conditioned vehicle.

Move air around with ceiling fans or floor fans. You can also use small personal desktop fans or cooling units to cool off. Don’t rely on a fan as your main cooling device during an extreme heat event.

If it gets unbearably hot inside, you can reverse a fan in a window and blow out the hot air from the house and replace it with cooler air. The outside temperature needs to be lower than the inside temperature for this to work effectively.

Keep the lights turned off and the blinds and curtains shut to keep out the heat.

Cooking, food

Avoid using the stove or oven to cook during a heat wave—it will just make you and your home roast. Use your microwave or slow cooker to make meals instead or just have cold sandwiches and salads. You can also make something quick on the stovetop with a short cooking time to prevent heat build-up in the kitchen.

Smoothies, ice cream, sherbet, popsicles and cold drinks like iced tea and lemonade always hit the spot in summer. So do macaroni salad, potato salad and other cold entrees. Eating smaller meals is better in the summer so keep it simple.

Outdoor fun

Soak your feet in a kiddie pool or washtub to cool off. Enjoy a swim to beat the heat or have a water balloon battle. Drag out that old slip-and-slide or the garden hose and get yourself sopping wet.

Treat yourself to a fishing trip by the creek or riverbank where it’s always cooler by the woodland shade.

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