Thursday, August 09, 2007
Keeping your cool in a heat wave
Talk about hot! Yesterday's high here in Washington was 102 degrees - a record! The heat index rose to 110 degrees -- that's how the air feels with the combination of heat and humidity. I admit I was working in an air-conditioned office with a jacket on because it was so cold, but my 10-year-old daughter was sweating it out at soccer camp. As the temperature continued to rise I began to get a little concerned about whether this was a day she should have stayed home. I worried -- did she have enough liquids? Would she remember to put on her sunscreen? Should she have worn a white shirt instead of orange? Should I have given her more tips on how to know if you're in heat-related trouble? Things like: if you're dizzy, if you have a throbbing headache, if your skin gets red or feels hot, but you've stopped sweating get to a shady area and get help immediately.
Washington isn't sweltering alone. An oppressive heat wave is sweeping the country, and relief is not in sight for at least a couple of days. So we must ride the wave and do what we can to stay healthy and safe. Those most at risk are children, the elderly and people with chronic health problems, but everyone should know how to cool off.
There are plenty of tips out there. Drinking lots of fluids is a no-brainer; you need to do that even if you're not involved in strenuous activity, and don't wait until you're thirsty. Don't drink alcohol or lots of sugar --- these actually cause you to lose body fluid. Avoid very cold drinks. Cut out the exercise -- and if you can't do that, cut back. And remember, sports drinks can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you can, limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours when it's cooler.
Outside wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. But if at all possible, stay indoors in air-conditioning. If you don't have air-conditioning at home, you can take a cool shower or bath or seek out a cool place -- the mall or a movie theater or the library -- for a few hours.
Remember, heat, humidity, sunshine and smog equal unhealthy conditions. If the quality of the air you're breathing is bad you're more likely to suffer respiratory problems. About 400 people a year die from exposure to excessive heat. So far thee deaths have been attributed to this heat. But what do you think? Is the heat is serious business? Or are we making too much out of a little sunshine?
Saundra:
Just a note: Check on your elderly neighbors to make sure their air-conditioning is working properly or they have enough fans for good circulation. Or better yet, take over some ice cold lemonade and make it a visit.
I feel summer temperature is getting higher year after year. Summer was not so harsh when I was a child. Temperature of 110 is not normal...My sons also joined a soccer camp in the middle of summer in their early teens. I was afraid they would get sick from a long hours practice under a burning sun.(Now they both are late teens and no longer play soccer in summer) Leaders who instruct kids have to learn correct knowledge about heat attack and other troubles of summer. I don't like summer. Serious heat wave happens somewhere on the earth every year. Doesn't it result from emission of CO2?
Salt. You sweat, you're losing salt. If drinking water or lemonade is not helping your thirst, taste a pinch of salt on your palm. If it doesn't taste salty, you need it.

It's something my sister taught her children and easy to take care of for yourself. It was really great to see my niece get a drink from the fridge, comment that, "it tasted funny," run the salt test for herself, and proceed to lightly salt her cuppa. Sip, "ah, that's better," she sighed. Conditions at that time were 98 degrees F and 95% humidity.
To beat the heat, I keep a light weight hand towel near by. When I start to feel overwhelmed by the heat, I soak the towel in water and drape it over my head. Usually if I know I'm going to be outside for extended periods of time in excessive heat (i.e. AZ in summer) I use do the same as above but place a kufia on top of that. Even in 105+ temps, I stay nice and cool.
If high temperatures are here to stay, the "western" world needs to start respecting the sun and heat the way people in the tropics do. Schools do not schedule sports camps for the middle of the day nor do people go running at 2:00 pm.
People reschedule to start out door activities as early as possible -5:00 am is commonplace for a morning walk in India; basketball camp is more likely to be scheduled at 7:00 am and be done by 11:00 am and most people stay indoors at peak temperature hours (usually around 3:00 pm in the afternoon).
Hi~ Saundra... We are now in the height of summer. It is steaming hot.It's important to drink a lot of water.I usually just have water.Five years ago, the government sponsored a health campaign to awaken Koreans to the very real risks of over exposure to the sun.Where deeply tanned skin used to be considered a sign of good health, It is now thought to be hazardous. Thankyou so much essential information. Have a safe summer!!
Live in Oregon . And go to the river to bear the heat . But I love the heat . To me the hotter the better .
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