The Accuweather Global Weather Center just sent out a US Heat Wave Advisory for extended parts of the Eastern United States for this weekend. Some areas will exceed 100 degrees F. In fact, they noted that for many areas, this will be the hottest weather they’ll experience so far this year.
Unfortunately, the combination of humidity, temperature, the sunshine and other factors will increase the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures several degrees higher than the actual temperature. Because of this, increased risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke are possible, especially for anyone taking part in a vigorous physical activity.
You can avoid the perils of summer heat by taking these precautions:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Plain water is best and don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Sports drinks can help replace minerals, but avoid those with lots of sugar which can lead to dehydration. Never drink alcohol, especially if you’re around water. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention (CDC) reports that alcohol use was a factor in almost one-third of boating fatalities and up to 50 percent of deaths associated with water recreation (adolescents and adults). Alcohol also interferes with your balance, coordination, and judgment all of which are heightened by sun exposure and heat, so you are more likely to put yourself at risk during hot weather activities, even if you haven’t had that much to drink.
- Take breaks from the heat as often as possible and preferably in an air-conditioned area. Retreat to your car, the local movie theater, mall, restaurant, etc. Schedule any outdoor activity for very early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are at their lowest. Buy a small, portable air conditioning unit but be wary of in-window models, especially if you have horizontal opening windows – they require the window to be open far too wide. Our neighbors had their 2nd-floor air conditioning unit pushed in and they suffered heavy losses in addition to their feeling of safety. We have an in-room, free standing air conditioner that only requires a small opening to vent. We use our doggie door, but you can also vent it through a window with a brace to prevent the window from being opened further. Best investment in our comfort ever!
Wear appropriate clothing and provide your own shade. Lightweight and light-color clothing is an excellent way to stay protected from the sun and still be comfortable. Loose fitting clothing can also help with your comfort. Add a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and UV protective sunglasses to protect your eyes (especially important for kids and babies!). Carry a dark umbrella to provide portable shade. Wear clothing with cooling properties – cooling bandannas, headbands, scarfs, tee shirts, hats, and more can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are. Many require soaking in water before use and then turning to keep them cool against your skin. I wear a Columbia Dry Ice Bandanna (Omni-Freeze Zero) whenever I travel to hot areas. Don’t forget your pets – cooling bandannas are available for them as well.
- Sleep well even without air conditioning by choosing light cotton pajamas and sheets, sleeping as low as possible in your house (often the basement is the coolest area), and by using a spray bottle of cool water mixed with a few drops of your favorite essential oils or a damp towel placed directly onto your skin (spraying your pet’s fur will help them stay cool as well). An ice pack from the freezer set on the back of your neck or armpit is also great as is taking a tepid shower before climbing into bed. Camp in the backyard if it’s safe – temperatures outside cool off hours before the inside does, Turn off lights, keep blinds closed, and avoid cooking inside to keep from adding any additional heat to the house.
- Prepare for hot weather emergencies – make sure you have water, portable shade, and emergency blankets for when the sun goes down in the car when you travel – even if you’re only going a few miles. Breaking down on the side of the road without water and shade can be miserable and even dangerous.
Be extra safe when it’s hot out – you’re likely cranky and distracted from the heat, so it’s easy to make bad decisions. One you should never make is to leave your children or pets in the car. That also means making sure your car is secured at all times, put the keys up where kids can’t reach them, and keep the doors to your home secured (use child window and door safety locks), so your child doesn’t get outside and into the car without your knowledge. Sadly kids die every year in cars on hot days – sometimes parents leave them there on purpose, sometimes by accident, and sometimes kids get in there to retrieve a toy and then can’t get out. Know where your child is at all times and prevent them from getting access.
Be prepared for the hot weather coming your way. Too many senseless deaths happen when the temperature rises. Check on your neighbors and take care of yourself!