5 tips for keeping your cool this summer

Ways to stay cool during soaring temperatures

The hottest part of the year is right around the corner, which means iced coffee is no longer an acceptable way to stay hydrated. The summer heat tends to take a toll on our bodies. It also can have a serious impact on our attitudes due to changes in sleep patterns, dehydration and restrictions on our daily activities.  This leaves many people curious about what they can do to beat the heat.

“Thinking ahead is critical to staying healthy in the heat,” said Janel J. Willingham, APRN, nurse practitioner with Norton Healthcare Prevention & Wellness. “Plan your day’s activities around the heat and avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours, which typically are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the sun is at its highest.”

Willingham also offers these five tips to help you survive the summer:

1.      Drink water instead of sports drinks: The easiest way to ensure an enjoyable summer is to stay hydrated. Drinking water can help eliminate a number of heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration and heat stroke. Sports drinks do not hydrate better than water. In fact many sports drinks contain up to 12 tablespoons of sugar.  Unless recommended by your doctor, plain water is better.

2.      Don’t forget to rest: Many people are more active in the summer than any other time of the year. However, be sure to schedule in some breaks. Increased heart rate and fatigue are two common signs of heat illness and can be easily prevented by resting your body.

3.      Use a cooling rag: While staying in an air-conditioned room is a nice way to cool off, there are times when you don’t have access to AC. A cooling rag around your neck is a great substitute and can keep you equally cool.  The fabric immediately cools when soaked with water and can stay wet for hours.

4.      Avoid alcohol: The thought of enjoying a fruity cocktail on the back patio or a brew at the pool may sound great. However, alcohol can dehydrate your body even faster in the heat. Try alternating your beverage of choice between glasses of water so that you stay hydrated and won’t end up having to leave the block party early.

5.      Wear light fabrics: Wearing lighter fabrics is a simple way to stay cool on hot days. Lighter fabrics, such as cotton and linen, can help reflect heat; while heavier fabrics trap heat.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

Signs of heat stroke include:

•         High body temperature

•         Confusion or acting delirious

•         Hot, red, dry or moist skin

•         Rapid, shallow breathing

•         Rapid and strong pulse

•         Unconsciousness

If you or a loved one begins to feel any of these symptoms, take steps to cool off. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention right away.

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