Cool it: Tips for beating the heat this summer

Health & Fitness

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This story is brought to you by Grand Peaks Medical and Dental, a multi-specialty, nonprofit, Community Health Center in St. Anthony and Rexburg.

Summer temperatures are blistering all over Eastern Idaho.

When it’s sweltering hot like this, it’s a good idea to take steps to protect ourselves. Extreme heat can be dangerous for our body and our mood.

Grand Peaks Healthcare Providers say that prevention is the best medicine when dealing with heat related illnesses such as sunburn, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Take a look at this CDC infographic for signs and symptoms.

If you need medical help, seek help at your healthcare provider’s office, an urgent care. If you feel the need is immediate and absolutely urgent go to the nearest emergency room.

Take a look at some tips to prevent heat-related illnesses.

  • Wear appropriate clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Stay cool indoors: Avoid places that don’t have air-conditioning as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have AC, take a break and head to the public library or somewhere where you know the air conditioning will be blaring. Even a few hours spent in cooler air can help your body adjust when you are back in the heat, according to the CDC. If you can’t get out of your home, take a cool shower and avoid cooking on your stove or using your oven to maintain a cooler temperature in your house.
  • Schedule outdoor activities: Limit outdoor activity to when it’s coolest. If you need to be outside, hang out in the shade,
  • Pace yourself: Don’t exercise for long periods of time in the extreme heat. The CDC recommends to stop all activity if your heart is pounding and you’re gasping for breath. Also stop if you are light-headed, confused, weak, or feel like you are going to faint. Swimming, however can be great exercise in the heat.
  • Wear sunscreen: One of the most important things to remember is to always wear sunscreen. In fact, sunburn can affect your body’s ability to cool down and can quickly dehydrate you, the CDC warns. Use a high SPF and apply 30 minutes prior to going out and reapply as directed. Everyone should wear sunscreen regardless of skin type, race, age and gender. Skin damage from the sun can happen to everyone, even if you don’t “burn,” so to speak!
  • Do not leave children or pets in cars: Cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures in just a few minutes. Never leave pets or animals in vehicles. Forty-two children died last year due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke, according to a National Safety Council report. All of these deaths were preventable. If you see a child or pet in unsafe situation, alert the authorities immediately.
  • Drink lots of water: Stay away from sugary and alcoholic drinks, which can cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks because they can give you stomach cramps. Make sure to give your pets plenty of fresh water, as well and if possible, keep them indoors while it extremely hot outside.
  • Stay informed: Watch the news and stay informed about the weather. Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them. The National Weather Service advices to make sure you check on older relatives several times a day during extreme heat and watch young kids closely, as they are more susceptible to heat exhaustion.

Remember some fun stay cool tips: Here are a few tips for staying cool:

  • Fill a cotton sock with rice, tie the sock, and freeze it for two hours then slide it between the sheets before bedtime. Rice retains cold for long periods of times because it’s dense and is high in starch.
  • If the day’s heat is trapped inside your home, try ventilating at night. A window fan helps, however, make sure the blades are facing outside to suck the warm air out. “Having a fan blowing in is a good idea – but it’s not as effective as one that’s blowing out,” Bill Nye, popular television scientist and comedian said.
  • If you don’t have central air or window AC in your home, you can improvise! Place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan positioned close to you. As the ice melts, then evaporates, along with the fan air, you can create a makeshift air conditioner to stay cool.

Grand Peaks Healthcare Providers warn that even if you have followed all these tips, it is still possible to suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Many people feel similar symptoms as the flu when suffering from heat-related illnesses.

Recovery after too much sun is important. You can speed up recovery by getting plenty of rest, intaking more water than you may usually drink and eating highly nutritious foods including fruits and vegetables. Sports drinks with electrolytes in them can help, as well, in moderation. For sunburns, keep the area cool with cool rags or cold packs, and use aloe vera gel to help the skin recover. Another over-the-counter item that may help is Solarcaine spray, which has a pain-relieving ingredient in it.

Be prepared while outside this summer and you can avoid the miserable side-effects of heat related illnesses!