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Heatwaves: How To Keep Your Cool

Updated on June 8, 2011

Heat Wave Ahead

The weather has already been all sorts of wacky around the world lately. With earthquakes, floods, tornado's, hurricanes, tsunami's and snow storms hitting harder then ever. The most recent of this deadly weather to come about, are the predictions of outrageous heat waves head toward the eastern states of America.

With that possibility already rearing it's ugly head, I feel it's important to have an idea of what you can do when a heat wave hits.

Heatwave Hazards

There are particular hazards involved when heatwaves hit, so by being aware of them, we can help to avoid them.

Hyperthermia - As the opposite of being too cold, hyperthermia also known as Heat Stroke, this is one of the most dangerous hazards of heatwaves. It happens when your body is not able to sweat enough to keep you cool. This takes the basic same effect as when your car gets too hot, blows a leak in the coolant lines and then it stops running because it overheated. Hyperthermia is one of the biggest killers during a heatwave, and has already been responsible for thousands of lives in the past. When heat stroke hits, you can notice symptoms such as red hot and dry skin, swollen lips, fainting, dizzy spells, nausea, headaches, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion, violent outbursts, signs of intoxication, seizures, unconsciousness or stroke.

Heat Edema - As your body works to cool you down, your tissues will begin to swell and extra water will accumulate in areas that need it most. For those with good internal thermostats, this won't be very noticeable. For others, it will show up as a lot of swelling in the feet, legs, arms and hands.

Heat Rash - Known by many names, this particular rash can show up when certain pores in your body get blocked and aren't able to sweat as easily as they should be. This normally happens in areas where you have tight clothing on, or more garments then any other area of the body. The rash is extremely uncomfortable and can lead to more permanent dermatological problems, as well as bacterial infections.

Heat Cramps - These are often side effects of dehydration, and when they occur they can be very painful. You will most likely notice them in large muscle areas, such as your calf, thigh, abdomen or arms.

Heat Exhaustion - Next in line from Heat Stroke, this one can be particularly dangerous. Heat exhaustion is also commonly confused with hyperthermia, as it can have many of the same symptoms. The biggest difference though, is that with heat exhaustion you won't usually see the "intoxicated" symptom or mental confusion. Though if heat exhaustion is not taken care of, it can quickly term into hyperthermia.

Psychological Stress - Even without any other complications, when the body is working hard to get hydration and oxygen where it needs to go, this can often leave less for the brain then is optimal. This can leave a person extra stressed in hot times. When you add on other complications, then ill-moods can become common place it heat waves.

Crop Failure - When the temperatures get high, plants suffer. Through extensive heat, lack of shade and lack of sufficient water - many crops will dry up and die before anyone has a chance to do anything about it. Things can get worse if the heatwave lasts and turns into a drought.

Wild Fires - Even your dried up lawn can become susceptible to catching fire during a heatwave. If it gets hot enough, and bit of tinder can ignite and spread to all other areas of dry burnable objects near by.

Who is most at risk?

Crop failures and wild fires are the only two issues that can clearly effect anyone and everyone at any given time during heatwaves. As for the specific health effects, those that really need to watch out are children, the elderly, the obese and those taking prescription medications. Alcoholics and drug addicts should also keep in mind that they are more susceptible then others as well.

Planning Ahead

Being prepared before something happens is always optimal. We can't always prepare ahead of time, but since we have gotten a heads up from the weather pro's, it's not a bad idea to prepare, even if your area wasn't projected to be effected by the heatwave.

Some ways you can be proactive about protecting yourself and your family from a heatwave:

*Stock up on water, ice and cold packs
*Stock up on pedialyte, gatoraide and vitamin waters
*Have a pool, sprinkler and water guns available
*Get fans and air conditioners out and ready
*Make sure your vehicles air conditioning is in working order
*Have a cool shaded area for your pets to play
*Have cold food and cold treats ready to go
*Keep bananas handy at all times (potassium helps fend off dehydration)
*Practice ice cold meditation

Staying Cool When Your Hot

Whether you were unprepared for a heatwave, or you still need some more tips for staying cool when it's hot, here are some ideas you can try to help fend off that hellish heat.

1. Keep Hydrated

The last thing you want during a heat wave is to get dehydrated. So the first thing you want, is to find plenty of ways to stay extra hydrated. Drink lots of water, eat plenty of bananas, drink beverages with electrolytes in them, go swimming and take cold showers.

2. Open Windows At Night

Although it can be good on a normally hot day to open up the doors and windows, during a heatwave, this isn't the best idea. It will heat your house up sooner then you would think. What you really want to do, is leave your windows and doors closed during the hot days, and open them at night. This will allow your house to cool down as much as possible at the coldest part of the day, and then to retain that coolness for as long as possible during the day.

3. Save Electricity

Why not help yourself cool off and save money on the electric bill - turn off AND unplug all unnecessary appliances and electronics in your home on hot days. Not only does leaving unused items plugged in, raise your electric bill, it also drags up the heat in your home. So help yourself in many ways - GO UNPLUGGED

4. Go Camping

Camping is a sport best left alone in colder seasons, especially since it is usually done in the mountains. Though in particularly heated moments, it can be a saving grace. So why not plan a spontaneous camping trip and get the heck away from all that heat! Plan your trip to be near a big fresh water lake, and make sure to pack plenty of cold foods and beverages. Then enjoy the cool nights and watery fun while you wait for the temperature to drop back home.

5. Go Nude

Your body is best able to handle high heat when it isn't hinder by those oppressive clothes you wear all the time. So why not give your birthday suit some exercise and spend some time in the nude? It's extra healthy for your skin, nervous system and confidence.

6. Veggie Popcicles

Vegetables hold valuable nutrients that everyone needs, especially during a heat wave. Though our society has largely become one that isn't all that into salads. So instead of forcing a salad on yourself, why not enjoy some veggie and fruit popcicles? Throw some carrots, celery, watermelon, cantelope, bananas or apples in freezer. Then pull them out when that thermometer is up and enjoy the benefits of cooling yourself down in multiple ways.

7. Avoid Alcohol & Unnecessary Meds

The summer often invites more alcoholic parties, as well as unnecessary meds for seasonal allergy sufferers. Many of these can deplete your body of needed hydration and other nutrients. So when it's supposed to be particularly hot, avoid them all together. You thank yourself for doing so when the heatwave is at it's worst.


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    7 years ago

    Very useful tips. Thanks for sharing.


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