Whew. It’s getting hot already and we’re only a little over halfway through June. We’ve already had a couple of heat warnings! As summer quickly approaches, many people are planning to make the most out of the hot, sunny weather. If you are considering a day at the beach or a backyard barbecue, it is important to make sure that you have all the essentials for you and your family to stay safe in summer heat.
There are many ways to ensure that you enjoy summer to the fullest, without putting yourself or your family at risk.
How to Stay Safe in Summer Heat
Lots of Fluids
One of the best ways to stay safe in the heat is to ensure that you are drinking more fluids. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated, carbonated, or sugary drinks which can actually be dehydrating and stick with water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. As you get overheated and dehydrated, you may become lethargic and less reluctant to want to drink continuing to do so all along will help ward off problems in the first place. Staying hydrated is a very important -perhaps in some ways even THE most important – step when spending time in the heat.
If it is extremely hot outdoors, sometimes staying indoors is the best option. In fact, an air-conditioned venue is the best choice. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, attending a local library or mall is a good option to help your body stay cooler. In many places, when a heat warning is issued, several locations will be opened up around the city as “cooling centers” – places with a/c where the public are invited to come in out of the heat.
Use a Fan
Obviously, it’s lovely to have air conditioning when the weather is really hot and humid. However, fans can also be a great tool to help you feel more comfortable and stay cool. Allow the air to circulate in your home by using electric fans or ceiling fans. If you place a bowl of ice in front of the fan so that the air blows past the ice, it can work even more effectively on those super hot days.
Close the Windows.
If there is a breeze coming in, obviously you want to keep the windows open to take advantage of that. In fact, if you can open windows on opposite sides of the house to create a cross-breeze, even better. However, if there is no wind at all, sometimes it can be counter-productive to keep windows open. Instead, you will simply be letting the hot air in and with the curtains open, you’ll be letting in the hot sun too. One thing I’ve found useful is to open the windows and curtains in the morning if the air is a bit cooler then. Then, being very strategic about the timing, I make sure to close them before the sun and the heat of the day really starts up. This seems to get some of the cooler air into the house and helps keep it there.
Staying cool in the heat is important and a great way to keep cool is to choose loose fitting and lightweight clothing items. Keep cool by choosing comfortable, flowing options to keep from overheating. Lighter colours can also help as darker clothing will absorb the sun’s rays. Of course, it is also a good idea to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your head, face, and eyes from the sun.
Cut Down on Activity
If you feel as though you must exercise, it is important to ensure that you are drinking plenty of water, regularly to protect yourself from dehydration. Otherwise, it is a good idea to cut down on activity as much as possible when it’s hot outside. Take some time to relax in the shade when you are outdoors and make good, healthy choices.
Use the Buddy System
It’s a great idea to use the buddy system on especially hot days. Look out for the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in others around you. If you have elderly or fragile neighbours, check in on them, particularly during heat warnings. Remember that children, older adults, overweight people, and those with certain serious medical conditions tend to be more susceptible to heat dangers than others.
Cook with Smaller Appliances
Avoid using the stove and oven during a heat wave. They can really add a lot of warmth to your home. Instead, go for cold meals (think salads, chartcuterie plates, sandwiches, and even cold soups). Use your barbecue (unless it’s a meal that requires you to stand over the grill for a long time – this will just make you even hotter). Make meals in smaller appliances like your slow cooker or pressure cooker. And remember that heavier, high protein meals can raise your metabolism and actually make you feel hotter. Light meals are the key.
And please, please remember – it is not safe to leave anyone or any animals in a closed up car in the heat!!!
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION –
Remember, it’s important to keep yourself from getting dehydrated in the first place especially in the heat! But assuming that you’re doing all you can to take care of yourself and your family, it’s still a great idea to be able to recognize the signs of dehydration just in case. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and that can lead to heat stroke. Ultimately, these can be dangerous. Signs to watch for: Dry lips and tongue. Headache. Weakness. Dizziness. Concentrated urine (it will appear quite dark). Nausea. If you pinch the skin on your hand, it should bounce right back if you are well hydrated. If dehydrated, it will hold its shape and release much more slowly.
SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION –
Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin. Heavy sweating. Headache. Nausea. Dizziness. Weakness. They may develop “heat cramps” in their legs or abdomen. It is really important to get someone suffering heat exhaustion to a cooler place. Spray them with water or apply cool wet cloths and towels to their skin. If they are conscious, give them water but it’s important that they sip it slowly. If they refuse the water, lose consciousness, or begin vomiting, you need to get them emergency medical care.
SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE –
Hot, red skin (can be dry or moist). Loss of consciousness. Vomiting. High body temperature. Call for emergency medical care immediately if they exhibit these symptoms. While waiting for the ambulance, move them to a cooler place. Start using some of the same methods as above to cool them off – cool cloths, spraying them with water, but even better is to immerse them up to their neck in cold water if you can. Bags of ice placed around their body can also be extremely helpful in cooling them down quickly.
There are many ways to ensure that you are staying safe in the hot weather. One of the most important things you can do is to stay aware of the weather situation and to plan for it. Know about any heat warnings (or anticipated heat warnings) so that you can adapt your day accordingly.