Beating the heat

We’ve already talked about ways to survive winter in warmth, but now that the weather is starting to warm up, we’re going to look at ways you can beat the heat with the arrival of spring and the onset of summer. Heatstroke may not be a disaster that everyone immediately thinks of when we think of natural disasters, but it’s an important one that should not be overlooked any more than staying dry in the rain or staying warm in the winter. In fact, it might surprise you to know that Heat-related health problems cause more fatalities than tornadoes and floods.

Types of Heat problems

There are two main types of heat problems that the CDC wants you to be aware of: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. There are some clear differences between the two that you’ll want to be aware of. First, we’ll start with the signs of each one.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature (above 103°F)*
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

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How to Stay Cool in the Heat

As with most health problems, preventing the above ailments is a lot better than having to treat them. You can avoid Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke with the following tips:

First and foremost, stay hydrated. In severe heat, it’s recommend that you drink frequently in order to replace fluids lost through sweat. In addition, caffeine, alcohol, and excessive sugar actually increase your body’s need for water. Even worse, caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will cause your body to lose more water, so you’ll always want to choose water over soda.

Cool yourself frequently. Water’s cooling properties go beyond simply drinking. You can take a cold or lukewarm bath or shower to lower your body temperature. Utilize ice or a cold compress on the body’s pulse points (wrist, armpit, and groin) to more effectively cool yourself. Finally, you can also get your shirt or another piece of clothing wet and put it back on to keep your body cool.

If you find yourself without an air conditioner, you can cool off any breeze with wet towels hung near an open window. You can also block heat-generating light using the fabrics. Also, keep your windows open at night so that cool air can come in. You’ll also find that basements are much cooler during the day than the upper floors of your house.

Cook outside. It’s not only more fun, but it also keeps the heat and vapors out of your house so a cool place will be waiting for you once you’re ready to go back in.

Other ways to keep cool include avoiding any unnecessary work or exertion. Wear light, loose clothing that breathes — cotton is a good choice. If you must be covered up when you sleep, do so with a sheet rather than a blanket.

What To Do If You Get Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke

If you do wind up getting Heat Exhaustion, do the following:

  • Move to a cooler location.
  • Lie down and loosen your clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
  • Sip water.
  • If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

If you get Heat Stroke:

  • Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment.
  • Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
  • Do NOT give fluids.