Let’s Beat the Heat: Five Ways to Keep Cool

We are just over a week into July, and there have already been multiple noteworthy heat waves this year. From the West Coast to the Plains, records have been shattered, and summer is just getting started! And even on days when records aren’t being broken, summer’s heat can be brutal. Today, let’s talk about some ways to keep cool when the temperatures seem unbearable!

5. Dress for success

Wear light (in weight and color!) and loose clothing. Light colors will reflect the heat and sunlight to help you maintain a normal body temperature. Choose clothing materials that will let your skin breathe easier, such as cotton, linen, and silk. Don’t forget the accessories either! A wide-brim hat is a summer staple, protecting your face from the sun. If you’re hanging our in your backyard or somewhere you feel comfortable to do so, consider going barefoot, since the sweat on your feet will evaporate faster and cool you down in the process.

4. Take care when exercising

If you’re an outdoor runner or cyclist, try planning your workouts during the coolest times of the day – typically early morning. If that’s not possible for you, swimming and pool workouts are a great hot-day exercise. Other recommendations include joining a gym, doing workout videos from the comfort of your home, or taking a walk around an indoor mall. Want to make it fun and include the whole family? Plan a “water war” – complete with hoses, water funs, and water balloons! However, there are some days when it is just *too* hot to be exercising outdoors, and on those days, the National Weather Service will issue Heat Advisories, Watches, and Warnings. Be sure to pay attention to these and use caution when excessive heat is in the forecast. Bonus tip: also plan lawn work around the coolest times of the day as well!

3. Block the sun

Keep your curtains and blinds closed can reduce the amount of heat that passes into your home by as much as 45 percent (!), according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering the house by as much as 80%. When spending time outdoors, spend time under large umbrellas, trees, or any shade that is available. Bonus tip: don’t forget to apply sunscreen while outdoors to block the sun’s rays as well, as a sunburn will slow the skin’s ability to cool itself. 

2. Switch up your menu

Turning off the oven and opting to grill outdoors keeps your home cooler. Incorporating more salads into your meals has two bonuses. The fruits and vegetables have higher water contents than other foods, adding to your daily hydration intake, while also being a cool and refreshing lunch that’s easy to digest! Consider eating smaller meals more often. My favorite part about summer is reintroducing my breakfast smoothies into my diet. While I don’t typically feel like drinking an ice-cold smoothies during the colder months, they are the perfect treat during the summer!

1. Hydrate

This is likely something you’ve heard time and time again, but that’s because it is the most effective way to stay safe during excessive heat! The number one thing you can to stay cool is to drink more water. While it’s important to stay hydrated year-round, it’s even more important to replenish in the summer when you’re sweating more. As the CDC says, “water is an essential nutrient for life.” Water makes up about 60% of our body weight and it is vital for almost every function in our bodies! Even if you don’t like plain water, there are plenty of ways to jazz it up, such as infusing fruit into your water or using water flavor drops. If I’m feeling especially dehydrated, I opt for a coconut water or a water with LiquidIV (an electrolyte drink mix) added to it – both of which I’ve found deliver hydration faster and more efficiently than water alone. However,  if you have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

Bonus tips: Thinking about Others

Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.

Image courtesy: NWS OUN

Do not leave children in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140°F-190°F degrees within 30 minutes on a hot, sunny day. If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately! Always lock your car, ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices, and teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area. Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car, and ensure your child’s school and/or child care provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.

Help pets keep their cool. As with children, do not leave your pets in a closed vehicle. Be sure your animals have access to shade and a water bowl full of cold, clean water. Dogs don’t tolerate heat well because they don’t sweat. Their bodies get hot and stay hot. During summer heat, avoid outdoor games or jogging with your pet. If you would not walk across hot, sunbaked asphalt barefoot, don’t make your dog walk on it either. (Dogs can also get blisters on their paws from hot pavement.)

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