How to Be Safe (and Cool) This Summer

With record temps in the upcoming forecast, here are tips to cope with the heat and humidity.

Posted: 06/14/2011 06:57 PM EDT
Filed Under Summer

Summer is here and while warmer weather can be great, it can also be oppressive and unsafe. With temperatures recently hitting the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest reaching the mid-high 90s last week, it's important to realize that the heat and humidity can actually kill you.

 

"The elderly, young children and infants, and people with cardiac disease and those who are taking certain medications, especially antidepressants, are most at risk for a heat stroke," Dr. Lisandro Irizarry, chair of the emergency department at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City told HealthDay News. He added, "After two or three days of heat, people—primarily the elderly—may exhibit signs of dehydration, including lightheadedness, nausea, confusion, difficulty concentrating and lack of thirst because the body starts conserving fluid."

 

In other words: the heat is not a game. Here are some tips on beating the heat, as opposed to the heat beating you.

 

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Not beer, coffee, soda and liquor, they actually dehydrate you. Stick with mostly water throughout the day. If you are feeling especially dehydrated occasionally opt for a low-calorie/low sugar sports drink or coconut water.

 

Stay inside, but if you if you have to be out, try to stay in the shade and keep an eye on perspiration. If you stop perspiring, get more fluids immediately. Try limiting outdoor activity to morning and nighttime hours, when it’s the most cool.

 

—Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothes.

 

—If you start feeling light-headed or dizzy, this is a sign that heat-related illness is imminent. Get somewhere cool and immediately get fluids into your system.

 

—Electric fans may be great, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans won't ward off heat-related illness. Instead, take a cool shower or bath, or move to an air-conditioned place.

 

But what happens if you don't have air conditioning?

 

Not everyone can afford to buy one or afford the high costs of electricity to keep it on throughout the summer. The good news is that there are ways to stay cool without the air blasting.

 

—Close your windows and blinds/curtains during the day. It will keep the heat from outside from seeping in your home. At night when it's cooler, pop those windows open and let the cool air come on it.

 

—Take showers throughout the day and sit in front of the fan. This is what I do all the time to keep my body temperature down and sleep throughout the night.

 

—Create your wind tunnel. If there's a cool breeze, particularly at night, set one fan facing out the window and the other face facing out on the opposite end of the house. This allows you to really maximize on this breeze.

 

—Keep the stove off. Opt for cooking in toaster ovens, stove tops or counter grills to make healthy meals. Also, keep it light and cool with crisp fresh salads.

 

Learn more about heat safety and prevention here.

(Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

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