Most of the Bay Area is under a heat advisory until Thursday night, with triple digit temperatures expected in many parts east, south and north of San Francisco. It’s hard to escape the heat, especially for those who don’t have air conditioning.
Constant exposure to high temperatures puts you at risk for heat-related illness, which occurs when your body can’t properly cool itself. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation and prescription drug and alcohol use all affect your body’s cooling ability.
Heat-related illness is preventable. Follow these heat safety tips to stay cool when the thermometer climbs.
1. Know who’s at risk. The elderly, kids and people with mental illness and chronic disease pose the highest risk for heat-related illness. However even healthy, young individuals can suffer from heat exhaustion if they spend a lot of time in hot weather. Visit high-risk adults at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Keep a close eye on infants and young children.
2. Drink more water. Drink more water than usual. When exercising outdoors, aim for 16 to 32 ounces of water per hour. Don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks, which dehydrate the body. Tricks like placing a small towel soaked in cold water around your neck or taking a cool shower will help keep your body temperature from climbing.
3. Adjust your exercise routine. Exercise outdoors early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature lowers. If your workout lasts longer than an hour, add an electrolyte replacement. Nuun and Ultima both make zero-calorie electrolyte drink mixes. Plain coconut water works well, too.
4. Dress right. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored, lightweight clothing. When you head outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head from the sun. Also layer on the sunscreen. Choose a product with SPF 15 or higher that says “broad-spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection.” And don’t forget your sunglasses!
5. Find air conditioning. Stay in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have AC, spend a couple hours in the library, a shopping center, or a coffee shop. Even a short break will help your body stay cooler.
6. Don’t forget your pets. Give your pets plenty of fresh water often. And never, ever leave them in a parked car. If you see a child or a pet locked in a parked car, call 911. If you need to break a window to save the child or a pet, you won’t be held liable in California.
As you celebrate the first days of summer, stay safe, hydrate and know that the blistering-hot days will pass soon enough.
Photo courtesy of Chris Brown, Flickr