Beat the Heat

DSC_1063_smThe dog days of August are finally here: today’s temperature is expected to rise nearly to 100 degrees, folks.  In fact, the heat index was already at 85F before 9:00 AM today.  We Metbloggers worry about you, DC, and we want to be sure you have some handy-dandy tips on beating the heat.

Drink lots and lots of water, or other non-alcoholic fluids.  And don’t wait until you’re thirsty!  If you do, it means you’re already dehydrated, which can be downright dangerous on hot days like today.  And it’s OK to be sweaty; your body’s just trying to stay cool.  If, on the other hand, you find that you’re not sweating (or you encounter someone who isn’t) when exposed to this heat, seek help immediately.  It could be a sign of hyperthermia.  Other signs include nausea, cramping, or confusion.

Don’t go crazy with the exercise, either, DC.  Do you usually walk five or ten blocks from the Metro to your  home or office instead of taking a bus?  Swallow your pride and hop on that bus today.

If you must be active outdoors, then try to restrict activity to the early morning or late evening hours, when the sun’s rays won’t be beating down directly over your head.  Be sure  to replenish with extra cool water or sports drinks while you’re doing anything outside.   Rest often, in the shade if you can.  In fact, everyone should try to stay in the shade as much as possible on hot summer days – while the temperature is of course just as high, the air can feel as much as ten degrees cooler.   It’s worth it to cross to the shady side of the street!

Protect your skin with sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat if possible. (Well, this is good advice no matter what the weather.  Even on cloudy days or in the winter, those UV rays are still whizzing down from space!  I always say, “there’s no such thing as a healthy tan.”)

Never, ever, leave anyone (human or animal) in a car!  Windows up or down, the temperature inside a vehicle skyrockets in a matter of minutes! And don’t forget that your pet is wearing a fur coat that can’t be taken off.  Be sure they also have extra cool water and a place to relax with some cool air.

If you’re like me, you have an elaborate strategy in place to ensure that you’ll be exposed to the heat as little as possible, and will instead stay indoors, in air-conditioned comfort.  However, not everyone has A/C in the home or workplace.  If you don’t have A/C, then I highly recommend escaping to an air-conditioned public place.  We all know DC has plenty of free attractions like museums and historic places you can visit for free.  (The Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Portrait Gallery even has free wi-fi!)  Public libraries, other government buildings, or even shopping centers are also good bets.  Then there are my two favorite choices:  the movies, or the ice rink.  And if you can’t leave your  home, try taking a cool shower or bath.

More tips available from the EPA, CDC, and Red Cross.

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