Whether it’s the heat wave hitting parts of the world, or just relentless August weather, unrelenting high temperatures take a toll on the body.
“Heat becomes especially dangerous if it lingers for a number of days in a row, especially if it does not drop at night and give your body a chance to cool,” says Michael Schichtel, the lead forecaster at the Weather Prediction Center. “It is very important to take the proper precautions.”
Here is a roundup of some tips for staying cool:
• Stay hydrated. Sweating is the body’s mechanism for self-cooling, but plenty of water is needed to give it something to work with. Recommendations vary between drinking two to four glasses of water every hour in excessive heat. Do not wait until you are thirsty to hydrate your body.
• Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Diet affects how you can manage your body’s response to high temperatures. Eat less salty food and protein, which produce metabolic heat that causes water loss. Eat more fruits and vegetables and smaller, frequent meals. Alcohol consumption can also increase the effect of heat.
• Pursue indoor activities during the hottest part of the day. The sun’s peak hours are generally 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“There are times you are going to be in the sun, but if you can avoid as much direct sunlight as possible, it is better,” Schichtel said.
• Take cool showers or baths. “If you can pour water on exposed skin, that is going to allow your body to cool down,” Schichtel said.
Applying cold, wet towels on the neck, wrist, groin and armpit areas can help bring down the core body temperature.
“When these parts of the body with high concentration of blood vessels near the skin come in contact with the cold, it helps transferring heat out of the body to cool down faster,” said Dr. Shubhayu Saha, a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wearing a hat protects you from direct sun; sunburns affect your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated, according to the CDC.
• Learn the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The CDC lists some of the signs as dizziness, a rapid pulse, nausea, headache and fainting. But symptoms can vary. Those having heat stroke, which is potentially fatal, might have a rapid but strong pulse, while those with heat exhaustion might have a rapid but weak one.
Immediate remedies include moving the affected person to a cooler place and applying wet, cool cloths. Call 911 if there is heat stroke, vomiting or if the symptoms get worse.
— Christine Hauser and Neil Vigdor, The New York Times