Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Take a Break: August Holiday Gifts to Start Now-Puzzle Pieces

It’s the first Wednesday in August so time for making some fun items that you can give as holiday gifts come December. Since August is vacation month, it’s nice to have a project to aid in relaxation with the added bonus of some interesting presents for future giving. At the end of this post are past years August Holiday Gifts to Start Now

 Puzzle pieces can be turned into some really fun gifts that people will enjoy receiving. Whether you have a drawer full of puzzle pieces, or you pick up puzzles at the local thrift store or yard sale for a quarter, consider some of these ideas:

Wreath: Cut out the shape of a wreath (using two different sized bowls) from card stock or cardboard.  Glue the puzzle pieces one layer at a time until you have three to four layers. Depending on what you have on hand, you can just use green, white and/or red pieces, spray paint the finished product; use a floral motif puzzle; or another “themed” type of puzzle. A candy cane shape would work well, spraying red and white stripes.

Puzzle Letter: Using a letter stencil, trace the letter on to heavy cardboard, foam core or something that’s strong and sturdy. Cut out and start gluing pieces of the puzzle on to the letter. Can leave as is or spray paint one color. The finished letter can be left as is or mounted onto canvas and framed.  Easy project to do with kids.

Coasters For the friend that loves puzzles, create special coasters and hot pads by gluing puzzle pieces to a piece of cork backing (available at your local craft store in rolls) or a piece of wood. Be sure to coat the coaster top with a number of layers of varnish to keep it water and/or heat proof.

Ornaments & Pins: Picking the same shape puzzle pieces and spraying one color, which will then
be decorated after being attached, can be used to create items for the Christmas tree or to wear as a brooch. Altered puzzle pieces appears to be a big thing in England, so there are lots of ways to bling out a puzzle piece to make a very classy pin. Larger puzzle pieces, such as from a child’s puzzle, are perfect for making name tags and/or gift tags. Putting a hole through a puzzle piece can be done by using a sharp needle or dart.

Wine charms, key rings, earrings: Put a hole through a puzzle piece, insert ring and you can make everything from a wine charm to some interesting earrings. Keep in mind that you’ll need to put layers of Mod Podge or varnish to create a smooth finish and make it durable for use. For a group of friends, link some puzzle pieces together. Place the holes for rings, clasps, necklaces or whatever you choose to use in such a way that the pieces can remain connected when first presented. Decorate as you see fit. Can be a nice way to recognize connections of friends, support groups, special event etc.

Gift Tags: Paint and include the usual "to/from" using Sharpies. Have made some using just acrylic paints and it works fine.

Note that the puzzle piece is used as the logo for Autism Awareness.

 Previous Years  August Holiday Gifts to Start Now

• 2016 Bowls 

• 2017 Jars 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Life With Chronic Conditions: Access Green Space

A study published last week in JAMA Network Open  has shown that green spaces are associated with better mental health.

Having access to green space is healing on multiple levels. Finding it in your community and spending time there could be a real boost, improving how you feel and function. Whether you have personal access to green space or not, consider working with a community group, a support group, church etc. to establish green spaces were they may not have them. Planning and implementing such a volunteer effort is not only rewarding and healthier for the environment, but lots of research shows how volunteering makes people a lot happier.

There are lots of options to consider including small informal spaces, such as by a river bed, roof terrace, vacant lot, or backyard to larger projects such as a park or nature trail. You can clean up an existing lot. One study found that 10 or more trees per city block positively impacted how people felt. Just looking at trees makes people feel better.

Don’t less cost deter you as it’s cheaper than you think.  The Philadelphia project found that converting an abandon space could be done for as little as $1,600 with an additional $180 per year for maintenance. You don’t need to go that big as simply cleaning an overgrown lot can be done for free.

To get started, check out Create a Green Space in Your Community.

Don’t overlook houseplants as they help to keep a space clean. In fact they can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours. In addition they improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels and boost mood. Check out The Best Houseplants for Every Room.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Take a Break: Make Water Marble rocks

This is the time of year people take long walks along the beach or hike and bring home lots of rocks. Some towns have "hide a rock" programs, where decorated rocks are hidden around town.

The easiest way to learn how to do this is by watching the video below. Note not every nail polish can be used with this technique so take note of which ones work.

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Life With Chronic Conditions: Dialing Down the Angst

Life is full of angst regardless of whether you are living with a chronic condition(s) and/or being a caregiver. The damaging effects to the body are well documented but more importantly, it  just feels awful. 

This post is broken into two parts: what to do to break the immediate grasp of being anxious and how to be proactive to avoid angst in the first place.

 Ways to Immediately Relieve Angst: This is for those times when you are suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of dread or fear, have a lump in your throat, racing heart, dizziness or any other sign that you are highly anxious.
• Stay present and breathe. Try one of the following breathing patterns to see which one works best for you.

-       CO 2 Breathing: Cup your hands over your mouth or use a paper bag. Breath into your hands or the bag slowly. Breathe normally and deeply.

-       Gently and slowly inhale a normal amount of air through your nose, filling up your lower lungs first and then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of “three.” Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.

-       Sit in a chair or on the floor with arms on your lap or sides. Take a deep slow breathe through your nose for a count of 5 or 6 seconds. Hold the breath for 2-3 seconds and breathe out slowly through your mouth for another 6-7 seconds. Breathe like you’re whistling. Repeat 10 times

-       Equal Breathing helps you fall asleep. Inhale and exhale on a count of four through your nose. Repeat for 10 breaths or more. You can extend counts to 6-8 seconds per inhale/exhale

-       Alternate Nostril breathing: Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, hold your right ring finger over your left nostril and release and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat the breaths 3 to 5 times.

• Take a walk, stretch, yoga pose-move

• Laugh out loud

• Talk to someone friendly

• Change the dialogue in your head. Run through a mental checklist-is there a reason to believe something is wrong; is there evidence; could I be blowing this out of proportion? Try affirmations, such as “I’m okay, this is just anxiety;” “my thoughts aren’t reality.”

Changes to make that can reduce anxiety driven situations
• Identify what makes you anxious and think about ways to reduce or eliminate these types of situations.

• Put some processes in place so they don’t become sources of stress. One of my recent ones is to use the “reminders”  feature on my phone and keep a list of things I need. Before I would run around trying to figure out what we need before I went shopping and I’d not only miss things, but I’d over buy thinking I was almost out of something. Now as I notice we’re running low, I add it to my virtual shopping list. Don’t have a phone, attach a note pad to your refrigerator and use it. Yes, I’m becoming a list minder, but it definitely reduces stress so I’m okay with it.

• Clear clutter as piles of “stuff” can drain your energy and make you feel stressed. Your home should be your sanctuary. Check out The KonMari Method for Tidying When Affected by a Chronic Condition

• Evaluate your relationships and eliminate or significantly reduce time and interactions with people who make you feel anxious. Cultivate supportive friendships.

• Simplify finances: put as many things on autopilot as possible (direct deposit of paycheck; auto deduct for savings , monthly bills etc); reduce the number of accounts you have, particularly credit cards; examine monthly bills and determine if there are things you aren’t really using, such as cable TV; pay for weekly expenses with cash (you save money doing this and reduce the need to continually balance your check book).

• Simplify responsibilities: Learn to say no. Only commit to things you want to do and have time for. Over commitments turns into poor performance and leads to anxiety and resentment.

• Reduce or eliminate screen time be it TV, smart phone or computer. Social media can not only be a time suck, but studies show it doesn’t increase a sense of well being. Set your phone so it doesn’t ping you every time there is a call, e-mail, text etc. Select the most important features. The world isn’t going to end if you miss a call.

• Go for contentment and skip the happiness obsession

• Have a news block out. Media exposure to disturbing events can literally make you feel sick. The goal is to be informed but not obsessed. Many people listen or watch the news as they eat breakfast, prepare dinner etc. Switch it up with interesting pod casts.

• Take vacations

• Learn to say “I don’t care.” You don’t have to have an opinion on everything so only optimize what’s really important to you.

• Put off till tomorrow or even until next week what you can. Everything doesn’t have to be a priority. Live in the moment and avoid multi tasking. You can’t really multi task anyway.

• Relax: Dance, listen to music, draw, paint, do nothing, read a book, exercise, take a hot bath, write. Do whatever that makes you feel comfy, cozy and saying “aaahhhhh....”

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Take a Break: Decorate Sunglasses

It's hot and humid where I live, so a summer project is in order-revamp sunglasses. Note there are lots of ways to do this so be careful as you glue and decorate that you don’t block your vision.

The Dollar Store definitely has an array of $1 sunglasses. In fact, price isn’t necessarily a factor. The most important thing to look for is a tag or sticker indicating that they block 100 percent of UV rays. Other things to look for include:
•  Oversized glasses or wraparound style as it will cut down on UV entering from the side
• Darker lenses don’t necessarily block more UV look for the 100% tag instead
Some sunglasses come with amber, green or gray lenses. They do not block more sun but can increase contrast, which may be useful for athletes who play sports such as baseball or golf.
• Polarization reduces glare coming off reflective surfaces like water or pavement. This does not offer more protection from the sun, but can make activities like driving or being on the water safer or more enjoyable.

So now that you have a pair of glasses that fit and will protect your eyes from UV, you can start decorating.

• Glue faux gems, tiny objects, feathers, studs, small shells or whatever you have handy to your glasses. Use strong glue like E600. Glue guns are another option. Allow plenty of time-overnight-before you wear your new creation.

• String pearls (not real ones) or Mardi Gras beads across the top frames, or around the entire frame. Some can be glued so they dangle below, creating more of a mask effect.

• Use red double-sided tape or just glue and then pour on the seed beads. It will stick wherever there is glue or tape. Need to use the really good stuff as otherwise the tiny beads will come off and you don't want to get them in your eye.

• Use white nail polish, puffy paints, Sharpies, acrylics to decorate solid colored sunglasses with designs.

• Wasabi tape as well as fabric can be used to create interesting earpieces

• Make cardboard designs, cutting out eye holes and gluing to the frame. Can make some fun glasses for holidays, birthdays etc.

More ideas? Check out 27 Ways to Decorate Your Sunglasses.

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Journal Watch July 2018

Anticonvulsant drugs ineffective for low back pain and can cause harm, despite increased prescribing: Anticonvulsant drugs are increasingly being used to treat low back pain, but a new study finds they are ineffective and can have adverse effects. CMAJ 

What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more: Posture -- not screen time -- is biggest factor behind neck and shoulder pain a new study finds. The condition is more prevalent among young adults than older adults. Women were 2.059 times more likely to experience musculoskeletal symptoms during iPad use than men. Those with a history of neck and shoulder pain reported experiencing more neck and shoulder symptoms during tablet computer use. Journal of Physical Therapy Science

New Rules May Constrain Docs' Ability to Treat Chronic Pain: New laws and regulations designed to limit the use of prescription narcotics may further constrain doctors' ability to treat patients, according to an article published online May 30 in Medical Economics.

New Recommendations Guide Arthritis Pain Management:The European League Against Rheumatism has released recommendations -- published in the June issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases -- for health professionals to use in approaching pain management in inflammatory arthritis (IA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The task force emphasized the importance for the health professional of adopting a patient-centered framework within a biopsychosocial perspective, having sufficient knowledge of IA and OA pathogenesis, and being able to differentiate localized and generalized pain. Pain treatment usually includes education, which can be complemented with physical activity and exercise; orthotics; psychological and social interventions; sleep hygiene education; weight management; pharmacological and joint-specific treatment options; or interdisciplinary pain management. Pain was consistently positively affected by physical activity and exercise interventions as well as psychological interventions.

Smoking Marijuana May Be Tied to Cough, Sputum Production: Smoking marijuana seems to be associated with increased risk of cough, sputum production, and wheezing, according to a review published online July 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Insufficient evidence for link between marijuana and pulmonary function, obstructive lung disease.

• Approves first CGM system with a fully implantable glucose sensor and compatible mobile app for adults with diabetes
• Approved cannabidiol oral solution to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy
• Approved first catheter-based systems used to create vascular access for hemodialysis patients
Approved a new device, the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve (Zephyr Valve), intended to treat breathing difficulty associated with severe emphysema.
• Strengthened current warnings in the prescribing information about fluoroquinolone antibiotics causing significant decreases in blood glucose as well as mental health side effects

In Women, Even Mild Sleep Problems May Increase Blood Pressure: t is well known that chronic sleep deprivation can affect cardiovascular health. However, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that even mild sleep problems can increase blood pressure in women. Nearly one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep. For women, the problem may be even bigger. Studies suggest that women are at greater risk for sleep problems, with some researchers reporting that chronic insomnia may be twice as common in women as in men.

Weight Loss Reverses Atrial Fibrillation in Patients With Obesity: Patients with obesity who are suffering from atrial fibrillation (AF) can reduce or reverse the effects of the condition by losing weight, according to a study published in Europace. The researchers found that a 10% loss in weight, along with management of associated risk factors, can reverse the progression of the disease. 

Clocking up 45+ working hours/week linked to heightened risk of diabetes in women Sticking to a working week of 30-40 hours may help to curb this risk, suggest researchers. BMJ Diabetes Research & Care

Headers may cause balance issues: Soccer players who head the ball may be more likely to experience short-term balance problems, suggesting that repetitive head impacts could have the potential to cause subtle neurological deficits not previously known, according to a preliminary study. American Academy of Neurology's Sports Concussion Conference

Obesity Affects Prostate Cancer Test Results: The results of the most widely used test for prostate cancer may be affected by obesity, according to a study published in Endocrine-Related Cancer. 

Obesity and Overweight Linked to Long-Term Health Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury:Especially at longer follow-up times, overweight and obesity are associated with chronic disease risks for survivors of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), reports a study in the July/August issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

Blacks Have Elevated HTN Risk Through Age 55 Years: Blacks have considerably increased risk for hypertension than whites through age 55 years, regardless of blood pressure levels through young adulthood, according to a study published online July 11 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Asthma, Uncontrolled Asthma Associated With Risk of A-Fib: There is a correlation for asthma and lack of asthma control with the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published online July 11 in JAMA Cardiology.

Skin Cancer Risk Higher in Military Personnel: There is an increased risk for skin cancer among U.S. active duty service members and veterans, according to a review published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Increased sun exposure, lack of protection may be responsible for increased risk

Marriage May Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease:Marital status may influence cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and prognosis after CVD, according to a review published online June 19 in Heart.

AMA Urges Caution With Use of Wire-Bristle BBQ Grill Brushes: The American Medical Association (AMA) states that caution should be exercised with use of wire-bristle grill brushes due to the potential health and safety risks associated with bristles that may break off and adhere to the grill or cooked food.

Prolonged Leisure-Time Sitting Tied to Increased Mortality Risk: Prolonged leisure-time sitting is associated with increased risk of mortality, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The researchers found that prolonged leisure-time sitting (6+ hours versus <3 activity="" adjustment.="" after="" all-cause="" alzheimer="" and="" association="" cancer="" cardiovascular="" chronic="" correlated="" day="" diabetes="" digestive="" disease="" disorders="" due="" hours="" increased="" independent="" kidney="" level.="" liquids="" liver="" moderate-vigorous="" mortality="" multivariable="" musculoskeletal="" nervous="" obstructive="" of="" other="" parkinson="" pneumonitis="" pulmonary="" risk="" s="" solids="" span="" suicide="" the="" to="" was="" with="">

USPSTF Favors Osteoporosis Screening to Prevent Fracture: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for osteoporosis to prevent fractures for women aged ≥65 years and for postmenopausal women aged <65 26="" a="" at="" basis="" final="" findings="" form="" i="" in="" increased="" june="" of="" online="" osteoporosis.="" published="" recommendation="" risk="" statement="" the="" these="" years="">Journal of the American Medical Association

Sleep Disruption Increases Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: Sleep disruption consistently predicts risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) before and after adjusting for obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study published online June 25 in Heart Rhythm.

Obesity alone does not increase risk of death: Researchers have found that patients who have metabolic healthy obesity, but no other metabolic risk factors, do not have an increased rate of mortality. The results of this study could impact how we think about obesity and health. Clinical Obesity

Linked between Consumption of fast food and asthma, other allergic diseases: A new review and analysis of published studies reveals a link between fast food consumption and an increased likelihood of having asthma, wheeze, and several other allergic diseases such as pollen fever, eczema, and rhino-conjunctivitis. Respirology

How a Mediterranean diet could reduce bone loss in osteoporosis: Eating a Mediterranean-type diet could reduce bone loss in people with osteoporosis -- according to new research. New findings show that sticking to a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish can reduce hip bone loss within just 12 months. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Vitamin D No Defense Against Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease: Research published in Nutritional Neuroscience has shown that vitamin D is unlikely to protect individuals from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or other brain-related disorders.

Taking Multivitamins/Minerals Doesn't Improve CVD Outcomes: Multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplementation seems not to be associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes, according to a review published online July 10 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Evidence Lacking for ABI for PAD Screen in Asymptomatic: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that there is currently insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening for peripheral artery disease (PAD) with the ankle branchial index (ABI) in asymptomatic adults. These findings form the basis of a final recommendation statement published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Coffee Drinking Found to Lower Risk of All-Cause Mortality: Increased coffee intake may be a beneficial addition to a healthy diet, according to a study published online July 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers found that coffee drinking was inversely associated with all-cause mortality. indings were similar for instant, ground, and decaffeinated coffee; across common causes of death; and irrespective of genetic caffeine metabolism score.

Binge Drinking Linked to Increased Systolic BP in Men: For men, binge drinking is associated with increased systolic blood pressure and any drinking is associated with an increased relative risk of hypertension, according to two studies published online June 27 in the Journal of the American Heart Association

New research could banish guilty feeling for consuming whole dairy products: Enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave, according to new research. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Tuberculosis Vaccine Improves Blood Sugar in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes: The bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine improves haemoglobin A1C (Hb A1C) in patients with longstanding type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in npj Vaccines. “This is clinical validation of the potential to stably lower blood sugars to near normal levels with a safe vaccine, even in patients with longstanding disease.” “In addition to the clinical outcomes, we now have a clear understanding of the mechanisms through which limited bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine doses can make permanent, beneficial changes to the immune system and lower blood sugars in type 1 diabetes.”

Human clinical trial reveals verapamil as an effective type 1 diabetes therapy: Researchers have discovered a safe and effective novel therapy to reduce insulin requirements and hypoglycemic episodes in adult subjects with recent onset type 1 diabetes by promoting the patient's own beta cell function and insulin production -- the first such discovery to target diabetes in this manner. Nature Medicine

Apixaban Is Safest Direct Oral Anticoagulant Versus Warfarin: Apixaban seems to be the safest direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) compared with warfarin, according to a study published July 4 in The BMJ. It reduced risks of major, intracranial, and gastrointestinal bleeding compared with warfarin.

Budesonide With Saline Solution Helpful for Rhinosinusitis: The addition of budesonide to a saline nasal lavage for the treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis provides clinically meaningful benefits, according to a study published online June 7 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Combination of LABA + Inhaled Glucocorticoid Safe in Asthma: Compared to treatment with an inhaled glucocorticoid alone, combination therapy with a long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) and an inhaled glucocorticoid is not associated with a significantly higher risk of serious asthma-related events, according to a study published online June 27 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Direct-Acting Antivirals Effective for Hepatitis C in Seniors: For older patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV), direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy is effective, according to a study published online May 25 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Those aged 75 and older are more likely to have clinically significant pretreatment DDIs and experience AEs, including ribavirin-induced anemia, during therapy.

11.2% of U.S. Adults Aged ≥45Report Subjective Mental Decline: More than 11 percent of adults aged ≥45 years in the United States report subjective cognitive decline (SCD), according to research published in the July 13 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Honey Smacks Cereal Salmonella Tainted: One hundred people across 33 states have now fallen ill with Salmonella after eating Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the illnesses linked to the Salmonella Mbandaka strain have been severe -- so far, 30 people have been hospitalized, although no deaths have been reported. The illnesses first surfaced in early March and have continued, with the last illnesses reported on July 2. 

Tick-Caused Meat Allergy on the Rise in the United States: Red meat allergy caused by a bite from the lone star tick appears to be on the rise in the United States, a researcher says. More than 5,000 cases have been reported in the United States, up from 3,500 two years ago, according to Tara Narula, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CBS News reported. The lone star tick is most common in the South, but is also found in much of the eastern United States. The ticks may be spreading to new areas as temperatures rise, research suggests. 

PCPs Often Not Meeting Needs of Seniors With Chronic Conditions: 86 percent of primary care providers (PCP) feel unable to adequately address needs of patients with multiple chronic conditions. Quest Diagnostics

WHO Calls for Renewed Effort to Combat Chronic Disease:The World Health Organization (WHO) Independent High-Level Commission has proposed six recommendations to address the growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), according to a report published online June 1 in The Lancet. The report includes six recommendations: (1) increased political leadership and responsibility from heads of state and governments; (2) prioritization and scaling up of a specific set of priorities within the overall NCD and mental health agenda; (3) identification of synergies within existing chronic care platforms; (4) increased government regulation and collaboration with the private sector and civil society; (5) increased financing of programs addressing NCDs; and (6) improved accountability to ensure commitments made by governments and the private sector are delivered.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Life with Chronic Conditions: Take Heat/Temps Seriously

--> Heat and cold are underrated dangers, but since it’s the middle of the summer and the east is frying under unrelenting heat, today’s post is why you need to make adjustments when the temps rise along with the humidity. 

Everyone can befall to high heat indexes, but the elderly, children, infants, athletes, those working outside and those with chronic and/or acute medical conditions are most vulnerable. In fact, more than 600 people in the United States die each year because of heat.

People with chronic medical conditions are more vulnerable to extreme heat as they may be less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Medications can make the effect of extreme heat worse. Any number of conditions can be exacerbated by high heat and cause heart failure.

Keep Your Cool

Keep plenty of fluids handy and drink them throughout the day. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks, which can cause dehydration. Heavy sweating can remove salt and minerals from your body. Talk to your medical provider about how to safely replace salt and minerals you may be loosing through sweat. Know the signs of dehydration: The easiest way to tell is by looking at the color of your urine. If it’s dark yellow, or you can’t remember the last time you peed, drink more fluids. The goal is pale yellow. Other symptoms include headaches, tiredness; irritability; bad breath; constipation; and thirst. Do a quick skin test. On the back of your hand, use two fingers and pull up half an inch of skin, anywhere from where a watch would sit to where your fingers start. Your skin should bounce back immediately. If it doesn’t,  you may dehydrated. The best way to avoid dehydration is to drink plenty of  water.

•  Keep tabs on your friends, neighbors and others who may not have air conditioning.

• Keep clothing light-avoid dark colors as they absorb heat. Loose fitting is your friend. Now is not the time to worry about making a fashion statement

• Keep curtains drawn and block out heat during the heat of the day. At night, open the windows and use fans to draw in cool air.

Your pets and children should never be left in your vehicle as temps can rise to 120 degrees. Check frequently on pets to make sure they have cool water.

• You work outside? Take frequent breaks; use a buddy system to check on each other.

Cooling zones are set up in your local community. Know where they are and use them. These can include libraries, theaters, malls etc. However, avoid extreme temperature changes.

• Stay cool by slowing down, staying indoors, avoid strenuous exercise, particularly during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities.