We tend to think of summer heat as not nearly so dangerous as Winter cold. After all, one can’t freeze to death in a matter of minutes as one can on some Winter days. It is also not as easy to get disoriented as when a blizzard strikes.
Summer brings images of warm breezes, lounge chairs, swimming, cool evenings and picnics. Of course, these days when West Nile is a problem, we do take more care to keep covered up. Or should. There is also the problem of too much sun, but a good layer of sun block can handle that and cool down the skin..
Truth is, Summer heat can be as deadly as Winter cold. In high humidity, sweat needed to cool down the body doesn’t evaporate causing a heat build up in the body. When humidity is at 40% or more along with a temperature of 90 plus, there is risk of heat-related illness. A combination of high heat and humidity leads to any number of problems including death, especially for the infant, the elderly and the chronically ill.
However, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves from Summer heat and keep cool. My number one protection is air conditioning. I remain cool and out of Summer heat by staying inside most of the time. For those at risk, and I am one, the first line of defense is to stay indoors. Small children, the elderly and the chronically ill should never be left outside or in hot vehicles for any length of time.
Water is the next line of defense. Drink a lot of water. Take water wherever you go. It hydrates and cools the body. Make sure the children stay cool and do not get dehydrated. Lemonade anyone? You might thing any liquid will work to protect, cool and hydrate your body. Not so. Alcoholic and caffeine drinks compound not alleviate the problem so steer clear during Summer heat.
Clothing is another cool defense. Don’t wear tight, restrictive clothing. Keep clothing loose and light colored. Dark colors absorb heat energy, while light colors reflect it. Even better, wear a wide brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt and pants. Sunscreen may be good when worshiping the sun, but the right clothing is a better long-term solution when outside for long periods of time. As for a sunburn, that charcoaled skin actually hinders the body from dissipating body heat.
Take care when working or playing outdoors. Over-exertion can be deadly in Summer heat. Slow down, take frequent breaks for rest and hydration, cool off in the shade, and, if possible, plan outdoor activities for the cooler morning and evening hours.
Another step of protection are fans and cool showers.
Summer can be everything we want it to be, if we take care and use a few common sense tips. Stay cool this summer. Enjoy!