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Simple Tips to Keep You Cool in a Heat Wave

Summers can get hot, with very high temperatures and humidity, and the damaging effects of extreme heat vary; from feelings of mild discomfort to light-headedness, dizziness, fainting and vomiting, and in extreme cases, painful sunburn and even organ failure and kidney damage. Consequently, it’s important to exercise certain preventative measures to ensure our health and safety during extreme hot weather conditions.   

Here are a few tips to help us keep cool in the heat:

15 Simple Tips to Keep You Cool in a Heat Wave

1. Hydrate

If you feel too hot, drink water or electrolyte infused beverages to cool yourself. Toxins can build up through dehydration, causing you to feel hotter, and excessive sweating can also rob the body of valuable water, minerals, and electrolytes. Avoid drinking water in excess in one sitting – it is much better to drink water or other satiating liquids throughout the day. Drinks to avoid include soda – or any other drink that contains large amounts of sugar – coffee, energy drinks, and alcohol. Each of the latter, in different ways, actually causes our bodies to lose water or electrolytes.      

2. Stay Indoors

If possible, try not to go outside during the hottest parts of the day or the hottest months of the year. Spending too much time outside, along with physical activity, can cause your body to lose valuable moisture and electrolytes which could lead to heat exhaustion or the more serious condition of heat stroke. While indoors, cold showers, compresses, fans and air conditioners can keep us at a comfortable and safe temperature. A nifty trick is to place a large bowl of ice cubes in front of a running fan; as the ice melts the cool air is circulated by the fan’s breeze.    

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body loses excess amounts of water and salt, typically from sweating. On the other hand, heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that occurs when your body is unable to control its internal temperature.


3. Stay Away From The Sun

Avoid spending too much time in direct sunlight. When you are outdoors, try to stay in shaded areas or under an umbrella or umbrella hat to protect yourself from the sun's intense rays.

4. Avoid Strenuous Activity

Do not engage in activities that require physical exertion during the heat of the day - for example, at midday or in the early afternoon during summer. Strenuous physical activity can cause your body temperature to spike, putting you at risk of overheating, inviting heat-related illnesses like dehydration and heat exhaustion.

5. Take a Cool Bath

Try taking a cool bath or even a long cool shower to bring your temperature down when it’s hot. Avoid extreme cold water, however, since it can shock the system and even cause a spike in blood pressure and heart rate. If a bath or shower are impractical, dipping your feet or hands in a bowl of cold water also has a remarkable cooling effect. A clean rag dipped in cold water and draped across the forehead or using a spritzer bottle as a cool mist can also help to bring our temperature down.

6. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating foods that are high in fiber and protein and low in sugar may help to reduce the affect heat can have on the human body. High protein foods include lean chicken, fish, or beef, tofu, lentils, low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese, nuts and eggs. Examples of high fiber foods include kidney beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy), oats, chia seeds, and dark chocolate. Maintaining a good diet not only promotes overall health, it also allows our bodies to cope with heat and other distress.

7. Wear Sunscreen

Smearing on a good quality, high SPF sunscreen is one of the simplest ways to protect skin from the harmful effects of the sun. UV rays can cause painful burns and in extreme cases, skin cancer when our skin is exposed to harsh sunlight for extended periods. When using sunscreen remember to rub it wherever the skin is exposed, including the back of the neck, hands, ears, and bald spots atop the head if not wearing a hat. Re-apply the lotion as recommended on the bottle or instruction sheet that accompanies the product.

8. Eat healthily

To reduce the heat effect on your body, you can eat more fruits and vegetables and foods high in protein. These foods help your body stay calm and relax your muscles. Alcohol consumption, on the other hand, causes your body to produce too much heat, making you feel hotter. By eating healthy food, you will be able to regulate your body's temperature and keep it at an average level even when it feels hot outside.

9. Dress for The Heat

Wearing clothes that are light in color has a calming effect since they allow the skin to breathe. Dark colored clothing absorbs heat and makes it harder for sweat to evaporate which can lead to a higher body temperature. Wearing light colored clothing which is loose fitting and made from cotton, linen or rayon are best since they let your skin breathe and have moisture wicking properties. Choose a wide-brimmed hat to go along with your summer ensemble and good UV blocking sunglasses help protect our eyes. Long sleeves, high collars, and long pants keep our skin protected from sunburn. If short sleeved shirts and pants are worn then a good sunscreen will protect exposed skin from sunburn.

10. Minimize Makeup

Wearing too much makeup can cause your skin to get dehydrated, making it harder for sweat to evaporate. To prevent this from happening, wear minimal makeup during the summer. It will also prevent your face from getting too hot. Besides, you’re beautiful with out it!

11. Eat Light Foods

During hot weather it is important to stay hydrated, and eating foods that help to regulate body temperature while providing nutrients and energy without causing overheating are the best option. Water-rich fruits and vegetables including watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes and oranges are delicious, healthy, and have the added benefit of hydration. Salads with abundant leafy greens and a light dressing are also good alternatives. Avoiding heavy, fried foods that are high in fat and protein is important since these can be difficult to digest, and can lead to sluggishness and lethargy, especially in hot weather. Lean protein foods including grilled fish or chicken are good alternatives. Chilled foods are also a good way to stay cool while hot or spicy foods can make us feel even hotter.   

12. Rest If You're Tired

Extended periods of exposure to heat cause fatigue and drowsiness. To cope, siestas are a common tradition in many warm-weather countries. While napping mid-afternoon may not be practical in western societies, resting during peak temperature periods can mitigate the effects of fatigue, sluggishness and overheating. Even slowing down our activities during peak heat hours helps to retain moisture and energy while avoiding the potential hazards associated with over exertion during extreme hot weather periods.    

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a total of more than 11,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979. While heat-related deaths are, thankfully, relatively rare, less severe incidents of sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration, skin cancers, and other related injuries can still be serious and depilating. Exercising caution and following a few simple tips will ensure our summers are enjoyable and worry-free.


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The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Patients should not use the information presented on this page for diagnosing a health-related issue or disease. Before taking any medication or supplements, patients should always consult a physician or qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about whether a drug is safe, appropriate or effective.