12 Practical Ways to Beat the Heat

It's a scorcher here in the Midwest! Daily highs over 100 and humidity boosting the heat index even higher... everyone must find relief.  If you can simply hide out in your air conditioned home for a few days... perfect!  But if you cannot, here are a few tips to keep you safe and sound.
  • Avoid spending time outdoors when the temperature exceeds 95. If you must be outdoors, drink plenty of water and/or electrolyte replacement (up to a pint an hour if you are working hard and sweating), seek shade and take frequent breaks, wear light colored clothing, a hat and sunscreen.
  • Take water with you when you leave your home. Use a refillable stainless steel bottle for short trips and commutes. Put a case of bottles in the cooler for a road trip. And just like in cold weather, make sure you have the clothes, shoes and appropriate supplies to stay safe if your car broke down at any point on even the shortest errand.
  • Eat smaller portions. Choose lighter foods that are lower in calories. Avoid high fat meals and snacks. There's a reason salads are traditional summer fare. Enjoy frozen treats to drop your body temperature. Try popsicles, fruit bars, sorbet and gelato. Or put some fruit juice and ice through the blender for a refreshing treat.
  • You may need to modify your fitness routine. If you usually get your exercise outdoors, hit the gym for a new class, laps in the pool, or a session with a trainer. Take this opportunity to tune up tour run on the treadmill, adjusting your speed and incline.
  • Keep your pets indoors. When they do go out, make sure they have access to shade and cool, fresh water at all times. And don't leave them out for more than a few minutes.
  • Check on others in your community, especially those who may not have the finances or experience to keep cool. These might include: elderly, immigrants, young people, and those with functional needs like mental or physical impairments.  Highly urban and rural homes are more likely to be without air conditioning.  These residents are at higher risk for heat related illnesses.
  • Hit the beach, the pool, a sprinkler or just the hose. Water is a great way to keep cool. Even giving yourself a shot from a little mister bottle will help.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol impairs your judgement. If you are going to drink, limit your quantity and stick with lower calorie choices like light beer and wine spritzers.
  • Reduce your indoor cooking. Avoid items that require baking or long cook times. Go for cuisine that is ready in a flash like couscous and seared tuna.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. This adds additional insulation to your windows, keeping cool in and heat out. It also reduces the radiant energy produced when sunlight hits objects in your home.
  • Use fans and window air conditioners if you don't have central air. You can buy a small unit for around $100 to keep a bedroom cool, and today's efficient units aren't the energy hogs from 25 years ago.
  • Find a cooling centers or just a cooled public area like a mall, the grocery store, or the library. Take it easy. This will pass and you can return to hour normal schedule and activities, but during a heat wave you may be risking your health (or your life) if you don't take precautions.

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