Easy Ways to Stay Cool in the Heat
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Whether you’re active outdoors or just running errands in the summer heat, you’ve got to keep your body cool to prevent heat exhaustion and even heat stroke—a more serious condition that can be deadly. Most people think it can’t happen to them, but the truth is, it can—when you’re not prepared.
While the body cools itself by sweating, if your temperature rises too rapidly and the body is unable to cool down, heat cramps, dizziness, nausea, headache, weakness, confusion, and even rapid, shallow breathing (a symptom of heat stroke) can set in.
Anyone 65 years of age and older—as well as those with chronic medical conditions—are more prone to heat stress, making the following tips even more important for them, and everyone, to follow:
Wear white—and other light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Loose-fitting tops and bottoms allow air to circulate between your skin and the environment. Black and dark clothing absorbs heat, which can make you even hotter. And when it comes to clothing, wear cotton or linen, natural fabrics that breathe. Moisture-wicking clothing is also a must when you’re exercising as it wicks sweat from your skin to the outer layer of the clothing where it can evaporate more easily.
Snack on watermelon and grapes. Both fruits have a high water content, which can help you stay hydrated. For a treat on super hot days, chill both before eating (grapes can also be frozen before eating). Avoiding hot foods and spicy dishes can also help keep you cooler. In fact, it’s probably best to keep the stove off when it’s hot, opting instead for no-cook foods like salads.
Set your alarm clock for an earlier wake-up. Getting out to walk your dog, exercising, and just doing things around the house in the early morning—when it’s cooler—can help you avoid heat exhaustion. Whenever possible, avoid the midday heat, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is strongest. A good rule of thumb for any outdoor activity is: if the temperature is above 80°F and the humidity is above 80%, the heat index (a measure of how hot it really is) may be too high and it’s best to postpone it until it’s cooler—unless you’re in the pool.
This helpful heat index advisory chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration2—used by the National Weather Service to determine heat index—can help you determine what you do outdoors, and when:
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