Summer’s blistering heat can turn even the most mundane activities into a sweaty ordeal, and with high temperatures stretching longer into the year, healthy heat practices are a topic worth revisiting. Whether you’re commuting, walking your dog, or simply going for a stroll, the rising heat can leave you exhausted and uncomfortable.
However, there is a point beyond which discomfort becomes dangerous. Dr. Catharina Giudice, an emergency medicine physician and fellow at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health‘s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, warns that heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real risks, especially as temperatures rise above 100 degrees. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with practical strategies to keep the heat at bay while maintaining your health.
Recognize the warning signs and act
Heat-related symptoms include dizziness, racing heartbeats, and shortness of breath. According to a 2021 study, extreme temperatures above 100 degrees increase not only heart rate but also blood pressure and impair efficient breathing. If your body temperature rises and you are unable to cool down, you may get heat cramps, heat rash, and even heat stroke. However, you don’t have to succumb to the heat. You may enjoy the weather without jeopardizing your health if you take the appropriate approach.
Look for shade quickly
While air-conditioned havens may seem the ideal place to escape the blistering heat, they are not always affordable. Whether you’re working outside or enjoying outdoor events, having a good strategy in place can make all the difference. Dr. Giudice suggests seeking shade beneath trees, erecting awnings, or, better yet, going to air-conditioned locations such as libraries, grocery stores, or cafes. Even if they cannot modify the exterior climate, these areas can provide quick comfort and assist lower your body temperature.
Hydration is your most powerful ally in the heat. Sweating in the hot sun can cause dehydration and electrolyte loss, increasing your risk of overheating. Regular water consumption is essential, but when the heat is high, pick fluids containing electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. These minerals help with fluid retention and keep you hydrated. Dr. Giudice advises Pedialyte and coconut water for effective rehydration but cautions individuals controlling blood sugar levels to keep an eye on sugar content.
Chill out with cold compresses
A cold, moist cloth applied on your neck, chest, and abdomen can provide immediate relief from overheating. Dr. Giudice affirms that this hack, which is supported by studies, aids in cooling your skin and lowering your body temperature. If a towel isn’t available, damp napkins or paper towels can work just as well. Water evaporation takes heat away from your body, providing short relief from the heat. Standing in front of a fan or an air conditioner can help to speed up the cooling process.
The summer heat doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can stay comfortable and safe in even the most extreme heat by taking preemptive measures and following professional guidance. There are numerous strategies to protect yourself from the effects of the heat, ranging from purchasing portable fans to wearing lightweight and light-colored clothing. So, the next time the temperature increases and you feel uncomfortable, know that you have the tools to overcome the heat and enjoy the season with confidence. Keep cool, stay safe, and make the most of the rest of the summer.