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How to Keep Cool in a Heat Wave

Aug 8, 2022

Heat waves have been sweeping much of the U.S., and in the hottest month of the year, rising temperatures are no joke. Keeping cool isn’t just about comfort– it’s about safety, too. The risks of severe dehydration and/or heat exhaustion are at their highest, so make sure you know how to keep yourself and your family healthy. Here’s how to keep cool in a heat wave and what to watch out for when it comes to health risks.

Adjust Your Habits

The last place you want to be during a heat wave is stuck in the sun without water. Limit your time spent outside and reduce strenuous outdoor (and even indoor) activity as much as possible. If you can, move these outdoor activities to the evenings or early mornings to catch the coolest parts of the day. Wear loose, light-colored clothing to keep cool.

Always keep a reusable water bottle on hand and drink whenever you feel thirsty– the hotter you are, the more you sweat and the quicker your body dehydrates itself. Stick the bottle in the fridge or freezer when you’re not using it, and utilize ice to keep it cool under the sun. While you’re outdoors, stick to the shade as much as possible and make sure to apply high-SPF sunscreen every hour or two.

Stay Cool Indoors

If your home does not have air conditioning, open all windows and turn on any fans you own. The idea is to create as much airflow as possible throughout the building, even though that air won’t be cooled. In general, try spritzing your skin with cool or room temperature water, use a damp towel on the back of your neck and face, and take cold showers. Again, hydrate regularly and steer toward fruits and vegetables with high water content. And of course, keep an eye on your HVAC system, which will be working harder than ever to beat the increased heat.

At night, temperatures will drop somewhat, but even moderately warm climates can make sleep difficult. Consider spraying a thin cotton sheet with water instead of using a blanket and keep your fans running.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Signs of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness and confusion, a loss of appetite, nausea, excessive sweating paired with pale and clammy skin, cramps in the arms or legs and stomach, overly fast breathing or pulse, a high temperature, and feeling very thirsty. If you notice a loved one experiencing one or more of these symptoms, get them to a cooler place immediately and have them drink plenty of water. They should feel better within about half an hour of rest, but if ignored, heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include shortness of breath, a seizure, loss of consciousness, and being unresponsive. If you notice any of these signs– or if an individual suffering from heat exhaustion fails to improve after half an hour of care– call 911 for assistance.

We hope these tips for dealing with a heat wave help keep you and your family safe this summer!

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