Okay, we are moving into the hottest months of the year (in the north hemisphere anyway), so I thought I would share some tips for staying cool and beating the heat. These can be lifesavers! Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are very real and very deadly; don't let you or your loved ones be a part of that statistic for how many people die due to overheating every year. Please share this around--everyone needs to see it, as a matter of safety.First and most importantly is to stay hydrated. I worked as staff at day camp in the summer, and the rule there was "drink water
It's a guideline meant for kids, but it works just as well for adults. Water is best for hydration, with electrolyte drinks on occasion to help replenish what you sweat out. Soda, coffee, energy drinks, and anything with added sugar is BAD. Metabolizing sugar costs your body more water than you get from a soda, and caffeine further depletes your body's reserves of fluid. Drink more water than anything else.
- every time you change activities
- every time you walk further than you can throw something
- every time you feel thirsty, cranky, frustrated, tired, hungry, or your face is red
- every time you go to the bathroom, especially if you can't pee or your urine is dark colored rather than clear
- if you're sweaty
- if you aren't sweating but feel hot
- if you run out of spit
- if you can't remember the last time you had a drink
- if you aren't thinking clearly
- if you feel fine for no reason after being miserable and too hot (This is one of the signs of heatstroke--your brain is so fried it suddenly can't take it anymore and pumps out endorphins and other "I feel fine" chemicals. knowyourmeme.com/photos/962640… NO IT IS NOT FINE, YOU ARE DYING OF HEATSTROKE!!!)
- If you don't feel thirsty, it doesn't matter, drink a mouthful or two of water anyway. It's almost impossible to drink too much water."
As a matter of safety, NEVER leave children or pets unattended in a parked car, unless it's somewhere that it will not get any sunshine like inside a parking garage. Even if you think you're only going to be a minute, DO NOT leave a living thing in a car that the sun can quickly turn into an oven. Leaving the windows on your car open partway (at least three finger widths) can help some, but it's not always enough. You don't want to come back to find your little one (human, canine, or otherwise) cooked. Wherever possible, bring them with you.
Look up the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, and learn first aid for both. If you, or anyone you see, is suffering those symptoms, COOL OFF. Hydrate, get somewhere cooler, whatever it takes. Often, people suffering heatstroke, dehydration, and similar don't feel hot, or thirsty, and they'll be irritable when you suggest that they're not doing as well as they think they are. Too much heat makes the brain start to shut down--if you are even a little dehydrated or heat exhausted, you are not thinking at your best, and it will only get worse if you don't cool yourself down and get some fluids immediately
.Another way to stay cool is to soak cloths in water, stick them in your fridge or a cooler, then when you need them, you can wrap one around each wrist and one around your neck, touching the skin. When the side towards your skin warms up, flip them around so the other side is against your skin. Cooling the blood vessels at your wrists and neck will have a profound cooling effect throughout the body. If you really want to go all out, you can also wrap another soaked and chilled cloth around your waist, touching the skin and uncovered so that any stray breeze will help the evaporation process.You can also take a bit of fabric (something thin and not too stretchy) and that water-absorbing gel used for potted plants (Sodium polyacrylate, also called water beads, potting beads, there's a bunch of names for them). Make a long, thin tube out of the fabric, and then stitch across it to divide it into a series of compartments, with just a few of the dry beads in each compartment. The beads absorb a lot of water and expand dramatically in size, so put only as much dry beads in each compartment as it takes to fill it when soaked. My family has a couple of these with about 10 inches of empty fabric on the end, then three sections, each about 6 inches long with water beads, then another ten inches of fabric. The empty ends act as ties, and the filled sections make a nice cooling scarf. The gel-filled sections are about 6 inches long and an inch and a half in diameter when soaked, and when dry there's only a spoonful worth of the beads. A little really goes a long way.If my directions aren't clear, or you don't want to hassle with sewing, you can look up "cooling scarf" or "gel cooling scarf" on Google. There are ones you can buy, and instructions for making your own. They are life-savers when it comes to beating the heat!
If your house doesn't have air conditioning, try these handy tips to keep it cool:
- During the day, keep everything closed up; at night, open everything and set up fans to get a breeze going through. (Air in one side, out the other; don't try to have air going two ways through the same window, it doesn't work.) Work with your local weather, rather than trying to fight with those existing outdoor breezes
- Put up white or light-colored curtains in any windows that let sunshine in. If you can hang said curtains outside the windows, it's even better, since it will block the sun's heat before it gets through your windows.
- There are plenty of cheap, easy ways to put bug screen over your doorways, including bug curtains that keep insects outside where they belong, but easily part to let people or pets through.
- Look up a DIY swamp cooler or other improvised AC method. It's amazing what you can do with a slab of ice, a bucket, a fan, a drill or cutting tool, and some duct tape.
- To keep yourself cool, even if your house isn't, try going to the lower floors, which will hopefully be a little cooler since hot air rises. You can also create a "cloud bubble"--take a large bedsheet, tape one edge to the frame of a fan, and weigh down the other edges. When you turn on the fan, the sheet should inflate to a small den with a nice breeze blowing through, just big enough for you to lay down in and read a book. Combine this with a DIY swamp cooler for even more concentrated chill.
Have a safe, fun summer, and don't let the heat keep you inside. Please share this journal around--you may think it's just common sense, but there are far too many people who don't know these guidelines or don't follow them well.