Keep Cool When It’s Hot and Humid

Posted: July 7, 2012

When it’s hot and humid, it can be difficult to keep cool especially if we have to work outdoors...

If we’re not careful, we can become over heated and suffer a heat related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Below are a few tips for staying cool from the University of Florida Extension.

     * Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated, or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. At-risk Individuals should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors. 

     * Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures. 

     * Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods that increase metabolic heat production--such as proteins--also increase water loss. 

     * Drink plenty of water and other nonalcoholic fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. People who (1) have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; (2) are on fluid-restrictive diets; or (3) have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. 

     * Do not drink alcoholic beverages. Alcohol dehydrates you. 

     * Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician. People on salt-restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake. 

     * Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day in an air-conditioned environment (during hot weather) can offer some protection. 

     * Don't get too much sun. Sunburn makes it harder for you to cool off. 

     * Never leave children or pets in a parked car. The temperature inside cars can rise to 135°F in less than ten minutes, which can kill children or pets. If you see a child or pet left unattended in a parked car, you should call 911. 

     It’s a good idea to know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

     * Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
     * Weakness and moist skin
     * Mood changes such as irritability or confusion
     * Upset stomach or vomiting

   Signs of a heat stroke are:

     * Dry, hot skin with no sweating
     * Mental confusion or loss of consciousness
     * Seizures or fits 

If you or someone you’re with are exhibiting symptoms of a heat-related illness:

     * Call 911 at once.
     * Move the affected person to a cool, shaded area.
     * Loosen or remove heavy clothing on victim.
     * Provide cool drinking water to victim.
     * Fan and mist the person with water.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.