How to stay cool and hydrated in the heat
High temperatures will kill hundreds of people every year, with more than 700 people dying from extreme heat every year that could have been prevented had they been armed with the straight facts on how to stay cool and hydrated in the heat.
It is wise to take measures to stay cool, remain hydrated, and keep informed. If you get too hot, you can fall ill from the heat should your body not be able to compensate for it and thus, properly cool you off.
Main things affecting a body’s ability to cool itself during extreme heat:
- High humidity When high, sweat will not evaporate quickly as it is designed to do, keeping your body from releasing heat as fast as it needs to, ultimately risking heat stroke
- Personal factors
- Heart disease
- Mental illness
- Poor circulation
- Prescription drug and alcohol use
These all play a role in whether a person can cool off enough or not in the very hot weather.
The folks that are under the highest risk are those listed below that include but are not limited to:
- People 65 and older
- Children younger than two
- People who have chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease
- People with mental illness
To prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and death during the hot weather (the CDC strongly suggests the following):
- Stay inside air-conditioned buildings as much as possible If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time inside. Try to locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area or public facilities that are air-conditioned or using air conditioning in vehicles as a means and to protect yourself against heat-related illness and even death.
- Absolutely do not rely on a fan as the main cooling device during an extreme heat event. When temperatures are in the high nineties or higher, fans will certainly not prevent heat-related illnesses. If you or someone you know are concerned about the costs to run air conditioning, please check and see if you are eligible to receive a discounted electricity rate in your area.
- Close windows and blinds during the day
- Check on friends, family, or neighbors and have them do the same for you.
- Of course, under no circumstances should you consider using a stove or oven for cooking because it will obviously make yourself as well as your home much hotter.
- Do drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Drink much more water than usual, and do not wait until you are thirsty enough to drink.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully by limiting them to mornings and evenings when it is usually much cooler and decrease the overall level of physical exertion as much as possible.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
- Pace yourself!
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Never leave children or pets in cars.
- Keep informed checking your local news or the CDC for health and safety updates
How do you stay cool in extreme heat and humidity?
What is extreme heat anyway?
This type of heat is very hot weather that stretches over a prolonged period of time that could also include high humidity too. In places like Michigan or Florida, high humidity usually goes right along with high temperatures. For example, a “heatwave” is typically defined as a period of three or more consecutive days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or around thirty-two degrees Celsius.
So how do I stay cool during extreme heat? First, know the signs of heat-related illnesses:
- High body temperature
- Fast pulse
Should you experience any amount of these symptoms, contact medical help immediately, move to a cooler place or call 911 if it is very advanced. If after you speak with a medical professional that determines you can treat at home, the following are also good suggestions:
- Keep drinking water, even if you don’t feel like it. Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids every hour.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks and too much caffeine or sugar
- Bring water with you whenever you go outside. Water refill stations are open in many city parks although, some public water fountains may still be currently turned off due to COVID-19 precaution protocols
- Visit a sprinkler or spray park or a public pool
- Limit the outdoor activities to mornings and evenings only, when it is much cooler in the day, and be advised to decrease your overall level of physical exertion.
- Protect your body from the sun by using sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher with “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels.
- Loose-fitting and light-colored clothing keeps you cool as well as wearing a hat and sunglasses
- Seek shade often if outdoors!
- Cool, air-conditioned places like the mall, movie theater, and public libraries are wonderful places to spend time during a heatwave
- Never leave children or pets in a car unattended, even if running out for curbside pickup or other quick errands. Interior temperatures can rise almost twenty degrees Fahrenheit within ten minutes or less, even with the windows cracked
Always call 911 in an emergency!
- Suppose you or someone around you is showing definite signs of heatstroke; call 911 immediately. Signs of heatstroke include:
- A body temperature over 103 degrees
- Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
- A rapid and strong pulse
While waiting for professional medical help to appear on the scene, move the person into a cool area, help cool them down with wet towels or a cool bath, and DO NOT give them fluids.
What can I drink to stay hydrated in the heat?
- Water is one of the best drinks to fight dehydration
- Electrolyte-Infused Water
- What is better than water is water with electrolytes. When you are dehydrated, you are depleted of electrolytes that help the kidneys function
- Homemade Electrolyte-Rich Drink
- With the right ingredients, you can whip up your own electrolyte-infused drink. The key is including sugar, salt, and plenty of water. This delicious lemon-ginger electrolyte drink recipe calls for ginger, lemon, lime juice, agave, sea salt, and mineral water.
- It is not a drink; however, watermelon is ninety-two percent water, and watermelon provides large doses of vitamin A, vitamin C, and electrolytes
- Coconut Water
- Coconut water is nature’s version of a sports drink. It contains five main electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium. Like a sports drink, coconut water also has sugar. What’s the difference, then? A store-bought sports drink has up to four times as much sodium as coconut water, but it also contains high-fructose corn syrup instead of natural glucose and fructose
What to Avoid When You’re Dehydrated
On the other end of the spectrum, you will find drinks that will make you more dehydrated, in particular drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Avoid reaching for coffee, tea, and soda, no matter how refreshing it looks. As for alcoholic beverages, keep this in mind: the higher the alcohol concentration, the more dehydrating the drink.