Sizzling temps? Beat the heat, and stay safe

Consumer Reports News: July 07, 2010 09:40 AM

With reports of record-breaking summer temperatures across the nation, day-to-day activities such as walking the dog and commuting to and from work can leave you sweat-drenched and short of breath. If you can’t stay indoors and close to an air conditioner all day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some practical tips to help you stay safe and avoid heat-related illness:

·  Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

·  Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

·  Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.

·  Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

·  Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

·  NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle. That includes your pets, too.

If you must be out in the heat:

·  Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

·  Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.

·  Try to rest often in shady areas.

·  Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.

Note to commuters: Consumer Reports’ medical adviser Orly Avitzur, M.D., reminded us that drivers face added burn risk because of hot steering wheels. If you’re driving, pack driving gloves on hot days or leave time for the car to cool significantly before you hit the road. Get more tips for driving in the summer heat.

Ginger Skinner, Web associate editor

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