See how experts recommend staying safe and cool in extreme heat

See how experts recommend staying safe and cool in extreme heat

Issac Montelongo watches neighborhood children play in the water during a heat wave with expected temperatures of 102 F (39 C) in Dallas, Texas, USA, on June 12, 2022. Although the heat wave caused the use of electricity in Texas to reach the highest point of all time, The electricity grid remained largely stable without significant problems.  REUTERS / Shelby Tower

Neighborhood children play in the water during a heat wave with expected temperatures of 102 F in Dallas, Texas, USA on June 12, 2022. (REUTERS / Shelby Tauber)

If you live in a heat wave, it is understandable to have questions about what you can do to stay cool. See how experts suggest you pass a soldier through a heat wave while staying safe.

Stay away from the sun

If your home has air conditioning, stay indoors and use it, FEMA-certified disaster preparedness trainer Cheryl Nelson tells Yahoo Life. But if your home does not have air conditioning, it is advisable to visit a refrigeration center, library, shopping mall or “any public space with air conditioning”.

“If you’re home at night without air conditioning, keep your windows open for ventilation and sleep on the lowest level of your home – cold air sinks, hot air rises,” says Nelson.

Operate fans for additional ventilation

If you have ceiling fans, Nelson recommends that you keep the blades rotating counterclockwise. “When your ceiling fan spins quickly in that direction, the air is pushed down, creating a cool breeze,” he says. Do you only have portable fans? “If you have a lot of ice, put the ice on a tray and place it in front of a fan. The fan air blowing over the ice will help cool your space,” says Nelson.

Focus on moisturizing foods

The foods you eat can help you stay hydrated, along with fluid intake. “During a heatstroke, I recommend eating vegetables and fruits such as cucumbers, celery, lettuce, strawberries and melons,” says Nelson. He says soup is a “good choice” because of its sodium content, which can help replace lost electrolytes. (You can enjoy it cold if the hot soup on a hot day seems excessive.)

Insist on smaller meals

“Digestion warms the body,” Dr. Mark Conroy, an emergency physician at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Yahoo Life. That’s why he suggests eating smaller meals during the day. “If you know you’re going to be hungry, it ‘s better to have a bigger breakfast when it’ s still cool outside and a bigger dinner later in the evening when it ‘s also cooler,” he says.

At the same time, be aware that you may need to eat more overall during the day. “Your caloric needs and water losses are rising,” says Dr. Lewis Nelson, professor and president of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, at Yahoo Life.

Keep your windows and shadows closed during the day

This helps retain the heat produced by the sun, says Nelson. If you do not have air conditioning, it is recommended to open your windows and shades at night to let the cooler air circulate and escape the heat that accumulates inside during the day.

Monitor the temperature in your home

If you do not have air conditioning, it can get warmer indoors than outdoors – even with the windows open, says Nelson. “It might be cooler outside if you find a shady tree to sit on,” he says.

Try to avoid operating power devices

Appliances such as your dryer and oven “will add more heat to your home,” says Nelson. If you can, try to use them when the outside temperatures are lower.

Take a cool – not cold – shower

“If you take a cold shower or bath right after the heat, there can be rapid changes in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate,” says Nelson. Cold showers and baths will also cause chills, which warms your body, he points out. Its recommendation: Take a shower with cool water and, if you feel particularly overheated, apply ice packs to the head, neck, wrists and other pulse points to stay cool.

Keep the doors open in your home if you do not have air conditioning

That keeps the air flow moving, says Nelson. “At night, the open windows at the front and back of your house create a breeze to circulate the air throughout your home to cool it,” he advises.

Push the liquids

“On hot days, you should drink a little more than expected,” says Conroy. A typical fluid intake goal is 64 ounces, but “when the temperature is 100 degrees or higher, it may need to be doubled,” he says.

“Water is the mainstay of maintaining hydration, but water alone is insufficient and can be dangerous,” says Dr. Nelson. (It can flush out your electrolytes, leaving you feeling sluggish, Conroy says.) “If possible, no more than two or three bottles of clean water should be used without food or other electrolyte supplements,” says Dr. Nelson.

It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol and high-caffeine beverages, as they can dehydrate you, says Conroy.

Conroy recommends that you look out for signs of heat exhaustion, which may include:

If you experience them, Conroy recommends getting out of direct sunlight, drinking water and spreading ice packs on your body. “Take off your wet clothes and let your body cool down,” he says. And if you start vomiting, your symptoms worsen or last for more than an hour, it’s time to seek medical help.

This story was originally published on August 13, 2021, at 12:03 p.m. ET and has been updated.

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