Staying Cool in the Summer Heat

It’s undeniable that many of us love summer and all that it represents: a slower pace, beautiful weather, more time to gather with those we love. Nothing says summertime like hot sun and a cool drink but as much as we might like the heat, our summers are getting hotter year after year. In order for us to be at our best, there are a few habits that could help keep those sweltering days under control.

It's So Darn Hot

According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, heat waves are becoming more and more commonplace. In fact, according to their predictions “If greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly curtailed, the warmest daily temperatures are expected to increase by at least 5 degrees F in most areas by mid-century rising to 10 degrees F by late century.”¹ In the coming years, we will almost certainly see many more droughts and consequently, wildfires. In addition to these natural disasters, the toll of extreme heat on our human condition could be significant. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. We humans are highly adaptable creatures after all. We just need to step up our game in these hotter-than-usual temps.

The Cooling Effects of Water

It can’t be said enough, water is the elixir of life. Not only are our bodies primarily made up of it (an adult is about 60%²), but drinking it is so essential to our existence. It’s been said time and time again that the human body can go many days without food, up to 21³, but only 3 days without water⁴. I’d say that that makes H2O a star player in each and every one of our lives, wouldn’t you?

So how much should you be drinking? According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a healthy adult’s daily water intake should be 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men.⁵ Of course, much of that comes from fruits, vegetables, and other liquids so don’t think you have to down 11-15 8-oz glasses a day. Aiming for 6 to 8 is a reasonable quantity if your diet is rich in water-based foods and liquids.

Of course, there’s also nothing better when extreme heat is getting to you than wading in a pool or lake, swimming in the ocean, or even running through a sprinkler. By the way, that last suggestion isn’t just for kids.

Bring Down Your Body Temp

Overheating can often occur when too much time is spent under the sweltering sun. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash are all unpleasant effects of prolonged heat exposure. If you are exposed to excessive heat and experience nausea, dizziness, headaches, high body temperature, heavy sweating, or confusion, it’s essential to take immediate steps as, without attention, they could lead to more serious issues. According to the CDC, the first key is to get to a cool place as soon as possible⁶. That could be a swimming pool or an indoor air-conditioned space. Applying cold compresses around your neck or taking a cool bath is also an effective way to bring your body back to a normal temperature. If you suspect a more serious heatstroke, calling 911 is highly recommended.

Dress for the Heat

We’ve all heard that dressing in lighter colors is preferable on a hot day. True. Dark colors absorb the heat more easily than cool ones. However, the type of material you wear is important too. Opt for breathable fabrics like linen, cotton, or silk and avoid synthetic ones like polyester, rayon, and leather (as anyone who has ever sat on leather car seats on a summer’s day can attest to). When you dress “cool” so to speak, your clothing will less likely trap heat and you will sweat less. Makes for a much more enjoyable barbecue.

Although extreme heat can be difficult for everyone, children, older individuals, people with disabilities and outside workers are much more susceptible to its ill effects⁷. If you fall in any of these categories or just want to be proactive in dealing with extreme heat in a smart way, mind your water intake, monitor your body temperature, and dress for the elements in order to ensure that you and everyone around you has an enjoyable and healthy summer.

 

References:
¹ https://www.c2es.org/content/heat-waves-and-climate-change/
² https://www.c2es.org/content/heat-waves-and-climate-change/
³ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20069776/
⁴ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325174#how-long-can-you-live-without-water
⁵ https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2004/02/report-sets-dietary-intake-levels-for-water-salt-and-potassium-to-maintain-health-and-reduce-chronic-disease-risk
⁶ https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html
⁷ https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/infographics/beattheheat.htm

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