US heat wave: tips to stay cool despite the high temperatures
Extreme heat events can be very harmful to the health of individuals, so staying cool when the mercury rises is of the upmost importance. Here’re some tips.
Across the United States, millions of people are under some form of excessive heat alert. The National Weather Service warns that excessive heat in the Desert Southwest will bring triple digit temperatures each afternoon into Friday, while hazardous heat is forecast over the Desert Southwest and the south-central US this weekend into early next week.
Extreme heat events can be very harmful to the health of individuals, already claiming the lives of at least 13 people in Texas. Staying cool when the mercury rises is of the upmost importance. Here are some tips on what you can do to find some relief from oppressive heat.
Ways to keep cool despite the high temperatures
First and foremost, avoiding the heat by not going out when it is the hottest outside and the sun is highest in the sky, generally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., should go without saying. But if you do have to venture out, put on sunscreen. Health officials recommend making it a daily habit even when it’s not scorching out. Stay in the shade as much as possible and if there is none, an umbrella can help provide you with some.
You’ll also want to wear lightweight breathable clothing. What color? There is much debate about which is better, light or dark colors. The most important thing is that heat can escape from your body, so you want it to be loose-fitting. Don a hat that will keep the sun off your head and face and, like the clothing, does not trap heat.
Also if you go by car, do not leave children, the disabled or pets in the car even for a moment. The National Weather Service says that a child could die within ten minutes of being trapped in a parked car.
Keep hydrated to stay cool
Keeping hydrated is another important factor to keep your body’s natural air conditioning system, sweating, working at its best. Drinking plenty of liquids and eating foods with high water contents is advised. Spicy foods can also help make the body sweat more. However, avoid drinking alcohol as this will dehydrate you, along with high caffeine, sugary and sports drinks.
Failure to properly hydrate you body can cause your kidneys to be stressed. Those sports drinks are high in sodium, “basically kidney stones in a cup,” according to Dr Kenneth Stallman, a board-certified urologist with Urology San Antonio. Its better to drink plain water, green tea or home-made lemonade or limeade with fresh lemons and limes.
Shelter from sunlight and the heat
Ideally you would want to turn on the air conditioning, but not everyone has that luxury. In the event that your house doesn’t have A/C you should seek out places that do, like a local library or a designated public shelter, where you can hunker down during the worst of the daytime heat.
If that’s not an option, seek out the coolest part of your house. Heat rises so find the lowest part of the house. To help keep your house from heating up, year-round you should do what you can to weatherproof your home. This goes for the summer as much as the winter, it will save you money in the long run and make your abode more comfortable all year.
Covering windows with light colored shades that block out the light, especially those that face south, will reflect light away without absorbing as much heat as dark colors. Blackout shades are something people that live in constantly sunny locations may want to consider.
Methods to maintain or even lower the temperature
Depending on how hot it is outside, you’ll want to close all the windows to trap the cool air inside. However, if you can afford to, open that windows will create cross-ventilation without making the inside of the house unbearable, but keep the south facing ones, or any that will have direct light come in, closed.
The US has many different climates and depending on if you live in an arid or humid location, the tactics you can employ differ. Areas with dry heat, you can use evaporation to lower the temperature when inside and outside. Using a misting bottle, you can cool off your skin. Likewise, damp sheets where there is a draft, by a window or creating your own with a fan, will cool the air as the water evaporates. But a warning, this technique does not work if the house is completely closed-up, speaking from experience the temporary bliss turns to hell.
Remember the heat index? Although the air temperature may read 90 degrees, if the air has a relative humidity of 60 percent it will feel like 100 degrees.
If you live in a humid area getting the air moving across your skin with a fan, consider carrying a handheld one if you have to go out, could do the trick. However, temperatures over 95 degrees could make the situation worse by causing more dehydration. You could also have the fan blow over a bucket of ice, but a word of warning, the bucket will sweat too. So have something to capture that water running down the outside of the bucket or risk creating another problem.
Using a spray bottle or a wet cloth to spray or soak your pressure points with cold water can help bring down your body temperature. Also limited cold showers or taking a dip in the local watering hole can help to find some relief from the extreme heat.