It’s always hotter during summer, and to think otherwise would be foolish. This year, however, temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit in many areas around the United States. Wildfires in California, the Pacific Northwest, Utah, and even across the world in Turkey resulted from excessive temperatures and dryness. Both fires and heat waves are uncomfortable and dangerous, and present a major health threat.
The Dangers Of Heat Waves
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), extreme heat is defined by temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average for certain areas. Some areas experience excessive dry heat, while other areas have muggy, humid temperatures. The humidity can make it feel hotter than it is, and dry heat can feel like you are in an oven. According to data at the CDC, about 700 people in the United States die each year from heat-related exposure. Heat waves pose several health risks, including:
- Heat cramps
- Kidney damage
- Heat exhaustion
- Impaired mental health
While the end of summer may be in sight, temperatures are still hot and dangerous. Heat waves can come at any moment, and it’s best to be prepared. Continue reading to learn about a few tips that can help you stay healthy when temperatures rise.
Avoid Excess Caffeine & Alcohol Consumption
It’s common for people to over-consume both alcohol and caffeine during summer, especially at parties or gatherings. It’s more habitual than anything, but these beverages don’t promote hydration. Actually, caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate the body. If you notice that the color of your urine is dark yellow, you need to stop drinking everything except water and electrolyte beverages. Maybe go for some electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water or homemade detox waters.
This seems like an obvious tip, but too many people suffer from dehydration in hotter weather. You should always have fluids with you, especially water, when it’s hot outside. If you find a great electrolyte powder that has minimal sugar content, you can pour that in your water. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes and you need to replenish those stores to avoid health complications like dehydration, kidney problems, or heat exhaustion. Water intake will depend on activity level, sex, age, and overall bodyweight. When the weather is hotter, drink more water than you think you need to. Click here to learn simple tips to improve hydration.
Look For Indoor Activities
Most indoor places have the air conditioning working overtime during the summer. If you want to save energy and avoid running your A/C unit like crazy, head to a place that is naturally cool. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, you may or may not have to mask up or socially distance when necessary. If you don’t want to go to a mall, head to a movie theater, library, museum, or other establishment with A/C.
Dress For The Weather
If you are experiencing a heat wave, don’t wear jeans and a hoodie. There’s no reason to do such a thing. It’s best to wear light, breathable clothing that fits loosely. Additionally, opt for light colors to avoid overheating. It’s also beneficial to wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with polarized lenses for even more sun protection. Depending on how long you plan to be outside, consider lathering exposed skin in sunblock.
Eat Lighter Meals
If you want to keep your body on the cooler side, it’s best to eat meals that don’t weigh you down. Rather than scarfing down potato salad or fries, ribs, brisket, chicken, rice, corn, and other heavy foods, opt for lighter meals. Consider an entree salad or Buddha bowl with quinoa and roasted sweet potatoes. Smoothies are also an excellent option. When the body has to work hard to digest food, it generates heat within the body. Keep food options light and be conscious about the size of your portions.