Coping with the Heat
"It's not the heat, it's the humidity!"
There's a lot of truth to that statement. As the humidity increases, it's harder for our bodies to cool themselves so it feels like it's much hotter than it is. In fact, when temps as low as 85°F are combined with moderate humidity, it can be plain uncomfortable and there are health risks as well. During a heat wave, like 1998's record-breaking summer, the comfort factor nosedives and the risks increase.
The Heat Index
calculates the apparent temperature based on the actual temperature and the relative humidity.
Beating the heat
- Stay indoors or acclimate yourself slowly. A lot of us grew up without air conditioning and survived, honest.
- Use fans to keep the air moving (and lower a/c bills).
- Wear cool, light-colored clothing. Cotton breathes. Baggy cotton is comfy. Try sandals or bare feet, shorts, a hat to protect your head from the sun's pounding rays (straw is best).
- Stay in the shade.
- Don't push yourself physically. If you must, do so early in the day, very early.
- Water is your friend.
- Drink lots of it. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, they actually increase dehydration.
- Swim in it, splash it on your face, stand in it, spray your feet, run cold water on your wrists.
- Drinking a quart of liquid per hour is recommended, more if you're exerting yourself (drink beforehand, too).
- Do NOT leave a person or pet in a parked car -- the temp inside can soar to a deadly 160°F within minutes.
- Pets left outside should have access to shade and plenty of water. Bring them indoors if at all possible.
- Water plants and lawns early in the morning. Later in the day, much of the water evaporates; watering in the evening invites fungus and disease.
- When the heat index is 105°F and above, be careful! Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are possible and serious.
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