Helpful Heat Tips

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email


1. Schedule physically strenuous activities for cooler times. And yes, that includes walking around the theme parks. Walking around in the heat and humidity can make ALL parts of your body sweat, and that includes your feet. When feet are wet, blisters can develop, so try to wear socks that are not 100 percent cotton. If you feel a hot spot developing, find a place in the shade to sit down. Take off your shoe and sock and inspect your feet. Put a bandage on the tender area, and let your feet dry. Dry feet are happy feet!

Dress in light, loose, cotton clothing. Natural fabrics like cotton are much cooler than most synthetics (though there are new high-tech synthetics made specifically to keep you cool). Protective hats (Wide-brimmed) keep the sun out of your eyes and provide some cooling shade. Loose fitting clothes allow air to circulate, keeping you cooler. The fewer clothes, the better, but make sure to be appropriate to the circumstances

Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels). You can get painful sunburn even on a cloudy day, so slather on the sunscreen every morning before you start out. Don't forget lips, ears, back of neck.

When working outside, take periodic rest breaks in a cool area. So relax, slow down, pace yourself.

Drink, drink, drink - WATER and Non-Alcoholic drinks. DON'T wait until you feel thirsty -STAY HYDRATED. In hot weather, as much as 3-4 quarts per day are recommended while exercising. Avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts NO MORE than 4-6 hours. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are diuretics -- substances that increase water loss via the urine.

Sport drinks, such as Gatorade, are high in sodium and are only needed if you exercise (or work) hard and long. Water-filled fruits and vegetables add to your hydration level, but not in significant amounts.

Never leave children or pets inside a car, even if the windows are open.

If you are taking medication, ask your doctor about its side-effects. Be extra cautious in the sun/heat if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other medical conditions. Also be extra careful if you are taking any medications. For instance, certain medications (like some antibiotics, NSAIDS [such as ibuprofen and aspirin], and some oral contraceptives), may make you sunburn more easily, so be sure to protect yourself and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Keep cool with fans, air conditioning, and cool baths or showers. Make your own air conditioner by placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan and letting it blow on you. Window fans work best when blowing air out, so put your fan on the sunny side of the apartment and let it expel the hot air while pulling cool air from open windows on the shady side. Keep shades or curtains pulled on the sunny side of the house.

Get plenty of sleep and eat light, nutritious, and non-fatty meals. Eat foods high in water content, like fruits & vegetables. Don't use your oven, use the microwave or a toaster oven. Better yet, eat out.

Be aware that when active in a hot, dry climate -- for example when playing tennis --
both salt and water are lost in sweat. Under such conditions restriction of dietary salt by healthy individuals may be unwise. However, salt tablets are rarely necessary.


Seek help if you feel symptoms of heat-related illness.

HEAT CRAMPS: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms, usually in the leg or stomach muscles, resulting from heavy exertion during extreme heat. Heat cramps usually occur when the heat index is between 90 and 105 degrees. Although heat cramps are the least severe of all heat-related health problems, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble coping with the heat and should be treated immediately with rest and fluids. Stretching, gentle massaging of the spasms, or direct, firm pressure on cramps can reduce pain. Seek medical attention if pain is severe or nausea occurs.


Heat exhaustion occurs when body fluids are lost through heavy sweating due to vigorous exercise or working in a hot, humid place. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to vital organs to decrease. Symptoms include: sweating, pale and clammy skin, fatigue, headache, dizziness, shallow breaths, and a weak pulse.

Heat exhaustion should be treated with rest in a cool area, sipping water or electrolyte solutions, applying cool and wet cloths, elevating the feet 12 inches, and further medical treatment in severe cases. If not treated, the victim's condition may escalate to heat stroke. If the victim does not respond to basic treatment, seek medical attention. Heat exhaustion usually occurs when the heat index is between 90 and 105 degrees.


Heat stroke — also called "sunstroke" — occurs when the victim's temperature control system, which produces perspiration to cool the body, stops working. The skin is flushed, hot and dry, and body temperature may be elevated. In fact, body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. The victim may also be confused, develop seizures, breathe shallowly, and have a weak, rapid pulse.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and people exhibiting its symptoms should seek emergency medical attention. Heat stroke usually occurs when the heat index is 130 degrees or higher, but can occur when the heat index surpasses 105 degrees.


Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs
According to Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, "symptoms of  overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees." Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

No Parking
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time—even with the windows open—which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Make a Safe Splash
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Screen Test
"During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets—mostly cats—fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

Summer Style
Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. As far as skin care, be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Street Smarts
When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Avoid Chemicals
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Party Animals
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. "Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas," says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Animal Health Services. "Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol."

For a list of helpful tips, visit the Center for Disease Control's website:

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