The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates some 400 Americans die each year due to heat-related causes. Summer weather can mean fun in the sun, but when the sun is sweltering due to a heat wave, or just the dog days of August, or from overall global warming, it does not matter. We need to cool down fast to prevent heat exhaustion, or even worse heat stroke.
Worldwide temperatures seem to be on the rise. In the last decade, extreme heat claimed many lives in Europe, while other countries reported increases of dangerous levels of heat and humidity.
If you live in an area where temperatures are breaking records, the need to beat the heat in as many ways as possible is a major priority. Infants, the elderly, and those who suffer from respiratory or cardiac illness can be at an especially greater risk when heat and humidity get too high.
We must not forget our furry friends can suffer too. Taking extra precaution will help provide some necessary relief. Always make sure they have access to plenty of water…indoors and out.
*If you want to get your jog in or do other strenuous work, try to complete it before 10:30am or after 5:30pm. This applies to sun-bathing too. The sun is at its hottest during the in-between hours, and the ultra violet rays can burn you, even on a cloudy day.
*Women should avoid putting on any heavy foundation make-up or body lotions during the hottest days. Your skin needs to perspire, letting out the extra body heat. This is the body’s natural cooling system and it is important to keep pores open. Also, if you have long hair, keep it off the nape of your neck by pony tail or pin it up to help stay cool.
*You can purchase a Slip n’ Slide wave rider for around $15. The kids will love it if you buy some inexpensive water toys and create a mini water park in your backyard. Water guns are fun and so is getting wet by a sprinkler, which you can attach to your water hose. Just make sure the children are covered with a good protective sun screen and, like all outdoor activity, avoid letting them play during hottest hours.
IN YOUR HOME:
* If you can afford even one air conditioner this can be a life saver. It will cool down one to two rooms. Close the doors to all other rooms. Camping out in one or two rooms is one way to beat the heat.
* Heat rises. If you can afford an attic fan, this is invaluable. An attic fan draws the hot air upward and out and if windows are open during early morning and evening hours, cooler air will be drawn in.
* Ceiling fans and portable fans. Make sure your ceiling fans are blowing air downwards. Freeze large plastic (2 liter) bottles every night. During the day place 3 in front of each fan and this will last most of the day, throwing off cooler air as the ice melts. When you fill the bottles, either fill them to a few inches below the bottle neck, or leave off the cap. Freezing expands the bottles. However, these work really great.
* If possible shut off all heat-generating appliances and electronics during the day. Run dishwasher at night and let dishes air-dry. Use low-energy lightbulbs.
* Close window shades (preferably white ones) facing south and west during the day. This helps keep the sun from heating up those rooms. Body heat escapes through the head, hands and feet. On your bed try to avoid covering even your feet with the top sheet.
* You can run your furnace fan because this helps even out the temperature thoughout the home and creates good air movement. If you have a cellar door, leave it open. The naturally cool air will be drawn upwards when your furnace fan is on.
* White or light colored cotton and linens are best. Make sure they are nice and loose. If you can go barefoot, it is better than wearing sandles or flip-flops which can make the bottom of your feet perspire.
* Fresh cool fruits and salads contain a lot of water and it is recommended to eat smaller meals more frequently during extrememly hot weather. These provide energy and help with hydration. High-protein foods increase metabolism, creating further internal heat. Avoid alcohol and caffeine drinks as these reduce your body’s hydration level. Always drink extra water and/or flavored water.
* Frozen low-fat yogurts, sugar-free lemonade or ice tea is another good source. Keep plenty of ice in your freezer. Sugar-free freeze pops are always a big hit with the kids and it helps them stay hydrated.
PUBLIC PLACES: If you can’t beat the heat, visit a local museum, library, movie theatre or other indoor recreation centers where you can cool off with air conditioning during the hottest days.
SYMPTOMS of HEAT EXHAUSTION:
5. Weak/rapid pulse
6. clammy or cool skin
7. Pale and/or profuse sweating.
If you or your loved ones experience the above symptoms, first cool them down by wet cold cloths. If there is no improvement and/or symptoms get worse, call for help. An overheated body can dehyrate quickly and places a person at risk for more serious illness. Especially the elderly and those with chronic health issues, they need to have a close eye kept on them…during the hottest days.
And, last but not least, if your pet prefers to stay outdoors, make sure they have access to plenty of water and shade. But chances are, they will want to move indoors and enjoy some relief from the heat too.