Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beat the Heat: Staying Cool is Important to Your Health

It’s almost 100 degrees, according to the thermometer outside my office window. Coupled with the humidity, it’s the type of day that’s not good for the elderly, those on certain medication, and any one with a chronic condition. 

Beat the heat:

• Spend time in air-conditioned areas. This is among the strongest factors in preventing heat-related deaths. Fans do not provide the same benefit. Many public places (malls, libraries, movie theaters, stores) are air conditioned so go there when it’s too hot at home.

• Stay out of the sun when possible and avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day. If you do need to be outside
-       wear a wide brimmed hat
-       use sunscreen
-       seek shade as much as possible and/or use an umbrella
-       limit strenuous outdoor activities

• Wear clothes that are loose, lightweight, light colored and made of cotton.

• Keep your neck cool. You can make your own Cooling NeckTie, which works for hours.

• Go swimming and/or take a cool shower

• Drink water and avoid alcohol. Millions of people in India drink hot tea to stay cool. However, the Farmer’s Almanac provides the recipe for Summer Punch used by the farmers along with a number of other “CoolOff” recipes

• Eat cool foods that do not require turning on the stove or oven. Yes, there is such a thing as watermelon salad and it’s delicious. 

• Reduce the effects of the sun/heat in your home by:
-       *  Putting up Sun blocker drapes Closing curtains and blinds (ideally with sun-deflecting white on the window side) can reduce the amount of heat that passes into your home by as much as 45 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
-       * Make a makeshift air conditioner by putting ice in front of a fan. As the ice melts, it will cool you. Note this doesn’t work so well when it’s humid.
-      *  Othertips 

• Don’t engage in strenuous activities. Growing up where it could be 104 degrees  plus 100 degrees humidity, I remember how the adults did as little as possible during the heat of the day. Even as kids, we’d find shade and lay around reading or engaging in simple games. Take walks first thing in the morning or in the evening. You can still get a 30 minute walk in but just be careful when you go.

• Be aware of the signs of overheating: cramps, dizziness, fainting, headaches, heavy sweating, increased heart rate, nausea. Get help if you exhibit any of these signs.

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