Whether you’re accustomed to a “dry heat” or summers so humid you can never seem to dry off, hot weather can be both inconvenient and unsafe. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) blame extreme heat for an average of 658 deaths every year in the U.S. alone. That’s more than floods, tornadoes, lightning, and hurricanes combined. Luckily, we’ve compiled some pro tips for staying safe during hot weather.
Staying cool indoors
Even indoors, it can be difficult to beat the heat without cranking down the thermostat and paying a premium for comfort. But with these tips for staying cool inside your place, you can kick back and relax — even during the hottest of summer days — without making your bank account suffer.
1. Keep your air conditioner well maintained
In the springtime, call a pro to inspect your AC system to help ensure everything’s in perfect working order for the warm weather months. A quick tune-up is always less costly than extensive repairs or an all-out replacement. The better condition your AC is in, the less work it will have to expend to cool your house, which can extend the life of the unit and save you some cash in the long run.
2. Stay hydrated
Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water, since thirstiness is one of the first signs you’re already dehydrated. Instead, consistently consume water throughout the day — and if need be, set a timer or download a water-drinking app to your phone to help remind you. It’s also wise to avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugary beverages since these types of drinks can actually cause your body to lose water at a quicker rate.
3. Eat cooling foods
When it comes to cooling foods, think fresh, raw foods like salads, fruits, and vegetables. Since these are mostly made of water, they help hydrate you and keep you cool. The body works harder to break down heavier fare like protein-rich meat, which causes your body temperature to rise, so it’s best to avoid these foods until sundown. Plus, eating raw, fresh food doesn’t require the use of your oven, which can significantly heat up your place when used.
The size of your meal matters too. Eating smaller but more frequent meals on hotter days can help keep you comfortable in the face of heat.
4. Close the blinds during peak sun hours
We know, it can feel almost wrong to close the blinds on all the natural light that the summer months provide. But with all that light comes heat, and it can quickly overcome your home even with the best of AC systems on full-blast. Keep the blinds closed during peak-sun hours, which are generally between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
5. Take a cool bath or shower
When you let yourself air-dry, the water evaporating off your skin is like an all-natural air conditioner that helps keep you cool. Taking a cool shower or bath can also help reduce your temperature by sapping away body heat into the cold water.
6. Wear light, airy clothing
Lightweight clothing is the next-best option if you’re not in a situation to lounge around all day. The fabric should be light, loose, and airy — and remember that light colors can help you stay cool too.
Outdoor heat safety
High summer temperatures pose the biggest threat to people working or playing outside. Help yourself and others stay safe with these pointers.
1. Stay in the shade
Whether you’re completing construction work or gardening in your backyard, remain in a shady area whenever possible. Battery-powered fans can also offer a lot of comfort, especially when used in the shade.
2. Drink more water than usual
Even if you’re not thirsty, drink water. The CDC recommends that you drink between 2 and 4 cups of water every hour while you’re working, exercising, or playing outside. And even if you’re just lounging by the pool, drinking this amount of water can only be beneficial. Remember to avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, and/or sugary beverages.
3. Rest frequently
If you’re playing a game of golf or doing some serious outdoor work, set a timer on your watch or phone to remind yourself to rest on a regular basis. Frequent rest is one of the main things you can do to avoid heat-related illnesses while you’re spending time outdoors.
4. Practice proper car safety
During the summertime, the temperature inside your car can reach well beyond the temperature just outside of it. Use your car’s air conditioner while getting from A to B, and if it’s not working for whatever reason, be sure to roll down some windows to keep the air flowing and the temperature from rising beyond what’s bearable.
On that note, never leave your kids or pets in the car while you run into the store. They’re still being exposed to hot summertime temps if you leave the AC on or the windows down. So even when making a short stop, always bring your kids and pets inside with you or leave them at home with an adult.
Preventing heat-related illness
Extreme summertime temperatures can affect everyone, but there are certain groups of people who are more susceptible to suffering from heat-related illnesses: people who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the elderly, people with medical conditions, and the homeless and poor, according to the CDC. It’s important to get immediate medical attention for anyone showing signs of heat-related illness.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says heat exhaustion symptoms can include:
- Sweaty skin
- Weakness or fatigue
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
Heat stroke symptoms
Symptoms of heat stroke can include:
- High temperature
- Red, hot, dry skin
Heat can kill — and it does. Stay hydrated, limit your outdoor activity, and stay in the shade (or indoors) as much as possible.