Tips for Staying Cool and Healthy During Extreme Heat
Summer is in full swing and for much of the nation that means extreme heat and humidity that can make it difficult to spend time outdoors. Remembering basic tips like these from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help you prevent heat-related illness during hot weather. Key things to remember include:
- Remember that infants, young children, people over age 65 and those that are physically or mentally ill are at greatest risk of heat-related illness.
- NEVER leave anyone (people or animals) in a closed, parked vehicle in hot weather under any circumstances even if you believe it will only be for a "few" minutes.
- Visit anyone that doesn't have air conditioning several times each day during extreme heat to monitor for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke especially the very young and very old. Warning signs of heat stroke include red, hot skin that is dry and not sweating, a rapid, strong pulse, and complaints of a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion/unconsciousness, or a body temperature above 103 degrees F. Ask questions, check pulse and take their temperature if you are not sure of their condition. Get medical attention for them if several of these symptoms are found.
- Drink water throughout the day and do not rely on thirst as your guide to hydration. Watch extremely cold beverages that can cause stomach cramps when it is hot. Use your urine as your guide to monitor for proper levels of hydration. You should be urinating regularly and it should be light yellow to clear in color. If it is dark yellow with a strong ammonia smell, you need to get into the shade or a cool place and drink several cups of water or another low sugar, non-alcoholic beverage.
- Stay indoors in a cool place as much as possible. If you do not have air conditioning where you live, visit a nearby mall, community center, senior center, community heat shelter or public library during the hottest part of the day to cool off.
- Be sure you have water with you when you load up the car whether heading to work or on vacation. Having water with you helps ensure you stay hydrated if you find yourself caught in construction traffic.
Brown outs and power outages are more likely when energy usage is at its peak when it is extremely hot. It is important to remember food safety guidelines if this should happen to you. When the outage is less than two hours, food in your refrigerator and freezer should be safe. Be sure to limit the opening of doors during the outage to maintain a cold temperature as long as possible. When the power is out for longer follow these tips to decrease the risks of food borne illness:
- After two hours of a power outage, pack dairy, meat, fish, eggs and other high spoilage items that contain these items in a cooler packed with ice.
- Food in a half full freezer will remain safe for up to 24 hours while a full freezer will hold food for up to 48 hours as long as the doors remain closed as much as possible.
- Use a food thermometer to check internal food temperatures before preparation and consumption throwing away any item with a temperature greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drinking Water Safety
Water purification systems don't always work when the power is out and sometimes communities are warned against drinking the water without boiling. When the temperature starts to heat up, store clean water in pitchers or a jug or be sure you have bottled water on hand. This ensures you have safe drinking water available if boil warnings are issued. When a boiling notice has been issued, but sure to only use water for brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food if it has been brought to a rolling boil for one minute or more.
Stay Active and Healthy
Limit outdoor exercise in favor of indoor options when possible. If you do exercise outdoors, take extra precautions to prevent heat related problems. Exercise in the early morning or later evening hours when it will be cooler. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and be realistic about your workout. This isn't the time to go for your longest runs or to expect peak performance. Be sure to drink several cups of water before, during, and after exercise and electrolyte replacement with a sports drink if you exercise longer than 90 minutes.
Keep the stove off during hot weather whenever possible. Use the grill to make great summer recipes or try one of these cool recipes.
Cold Shrimp & Cilantro Salad
Cold Vegetable Pizza
Tuna Noodle Salad
Cold Greek Pasta Salad with Chick Peas
Stay safe and healthy even when it is extremely hot by planning and being prepared.
What tips do you use to stay cool and healthy during hot summer days?
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