7 Ways to Stay Cool in a Heat Wave

  • Avoiding Overheating

    Chances are that at some point today you’ll be drenched in sweat and searching for a way to cool off, especially if you're on the East Coast. But keeping cool isn’t just about staying dry and comfortable. Overheating can lead to serious health problems including dehydration and even heat stroke, which can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of little-known ways to cool off, beyond finding refuge in air-conditioned homes, stores and restaurants. Of course, if their advice seems contrary to your doctor’s orders or you suffer from a serious health condition, it’s best to consult a health professional before you proceed. Photo Credit: jtravism
    Drink Up
  • Drink Up

    Regardless of how active you are, you should be drinking more fluids than usual when it’s sweltering outside. And we’re not just talking about eight glasses of water per day. You may even want to drink two to four glasses or 16-32 ounces of water every hour if you’re exerting yourself in the heat, according to the CDC. And you shouldn't just wait until you’re parched to drink. Of course, liquids containing alcohol or a lot of sugar aren’t very good for you. They could actually make you lose more body fluid than you would if you drank water, the CDC explains. Photo Credit: Randy Son of Robert
    A Little Bit of Salt
  • A Little Bit of Salt

    While we might generally stress the negative effects of consuming too much salt, when it’s hot outside, you lose salt in your sweat. Losing too much salt can be a bad thing since it’s necessary to keep your brain cells working properly. After heavy sweating in the heat, sports drinks can help replace the salt and minerals you’ve lost, the CDC says. Salt solutions are even administered in serious cases of dehydration, the Mayo Clinic notes. Photo Credit: Duchamp
    Skin Protection
  • Skin Protection

    Getting a sunburn isn’t just bad for your skin, it can actually have a dehydrating effect on the body, according to the CDC. The agency suggests wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. And whatever you do, don’t use butters or ointments on sunburns. They can prevent heat and sweat from escaping from burned skin, according to Stony Brook University Medical Center. Additionally, lightweight and light-colored clothing should be worn in particularly brutal heat, but when you’re home it may actually be a good idea to strip to your skivvies to stay cool, the CDC suggests. Photo Credit: kirinqueen
    Smart Scheduling
  • Smart Scheduling

    Keep your outdoor activities limited to the morning and evening hours when temperatures are cooler outdoors and take a break in the shade if you necessary. Seeking cooler temperatures isn’t just about comfort. It’s a matter of health as well. Heavy sweating and dizziness from the heat could be a sign of heat exhaustion, a serious condition which we’ll talk more about later. And when you do head outdoors, be sure to pace yourself. If you start to feel weak, lightheaded or confused, cease all activity, get to a cool area or at least in the shade to rest, the CDC suggests. Photo Credit: The U.S. Army
    Stay on the Lookout
  • Stay on the Lookout

    The young, the elderly and those with respiratory and other serious health conditions can be particularly susceptible to the negative health effects caused by heat, so it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Friends, relatives and neighbors who are 65 or older should be checked on at least twice a day during heat waves, the CDC suggests. And infants are especially sensitive to high temperatures. At least three children have already died after being left in hot cars this year, as MainStreet previously reported. Photo Credit: DerrickT
    Recognizing an Emergency
  • Recognizing an Emergency

    A heat wave along with poor hydration can lead to heat exhaustion, which can make you sweat heavily, turn pale, give you muscle cramps and make you feel dizzy, achey and nauseous, according to the CDC. Rest, cold beverages, a cool shower, air conditioning and lightweight clothing may help. Heat stroke is a more serious problem, during which the body becomes unable to regulate its own temperature. Someone with heat stroke may reach 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in a short period of time, and it can be deadly or cause permanent disability, the CDC says. Photo Credit: Sasha W
    Heat Cramps
  • Heat Cramps

    Doing strenuous activities in the heat can cause less severe problems as well, including muscle pains and spasms in the arms, legs or stomach. Sitting quietly and drinking a sports drink or clear juice can help, however, the CDC says. If symptoms don’t go away in an hour, however, you should see a doctor. Photo Credit: ileftmysocks
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