Stay-cool tips for hot days and nights

Consumer Reports News: June 18, 2012 11:53 AM

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Summer officially arrives this Wednesday, and the first heat wave of the year is coming along with it. Hot weather from the West and Midwest should reach the Northeast over the next couple of days, pushing temperatures up to 100 in Philadelphia and Washington. That's more than a nuisance; super-hot weather can be dangerous or even deadly for some people, namely older adults and people with heart disease or other chronic conditions.

These tips can help you prevent heat-related illness and stay comfortable in general when the mercury soars.

  • If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment on hot, humid days, especially if an air-pollution alert is in effect. Don't have central air? Check our Ratings of the coolest air conditioners.
  • If you don't have air conditioning or access to an air-conditioned environment, take cool showers or baths and keep shades or curtains drawn during the day, especially on south- or west-facing windows. Use table or ceiling fans to circulate air. If possible, open windows on opposite sides of your home to create cross-ventilation.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors when it's hot.
  • Dress in light colors and breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen. Synthetic materials like polyester can trap heat.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • If you venture into the hot sun, wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade. To ensure your sunscreen will really shield out harmful rays, check out our most recent sunscreen Ratings and buying guide.
  • Get immediate medical help if you or someone you're with develops symptoms of heat-related illness, including confusion, lethargy, agitation, intense muscle aches, fever, nausea, or convulsions.

Jamie Kopf

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