10 ways to cope with summer heatwaves

10 ways to cope with summer heatwaves

Photo by Stefan Sundin | flickr

Summer is finally upon us. That is generally good news, because it means it’s time for vacations, lots of traveling and adventures, sunbathing, swimming, reading, hiking and every other shenenigan you may want to engage in. Unfortunately, at least in some regions of the world, summer is not always so kind.

Heatwaves can strike even areas where cooler climates are usually the norm. Surviving in extreme temperatures proves a challenge even to those homes where there is air conditioning, because let’s face it, we just can’t stay inside all the time.

This year, both the USA and many countries throughout Europe are facing a prolonged heatwave, that makes it difficult for people to engage in the most basic activities, such as going to work. So here are a few tips on how to deal with a heatwave, both inside your home (especially if you don’t have air conditioning) and outside:

1. Use ceiling fans to promote air circulation throughout your home. When the sun rises, make sure to close all doors and windows, as well as the curtains and blinds, to keep the indoors cool for as long as possible. Later on, during the evenings when the outside air cools to a low enough temperature, do open all windows and promote as much air circulation as possible.

2. If you’re living in a multi-storey house, head downstairs during the hottest part of the day. As hot air rises, the upper stories of a home will be warmer than the ground floor, so an inhabitable basement would be an ideal retreat.

3. Make use of the cooling powers of water. Take as many cool showers as you consider necessary during the day. Wet towels, if worn over your shoulders, head or other overheated areas, can also have a pleasant cooling effect.

4. Very importantly, remember to stay properly hydrated. During hot summer days, you need to drink more water than you usually do, as well as consume foods rich in water and electrolytes (vegetables, cereal).

5. Avoid protein rich meals, for they promote metabolic heat and warm the body.

6. Make sure you are able to recognize the symptoms of heat-induced illnesses (heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke) both in yourself and other people around you that may be affected (particularly the elderly). Also, keep in mind that pets also suffer when temperatures rise too much, so if you have any, give them a cool bath or at least a wet, cool towel to lay on and make sure they drink plenty of water.

7. Eliminate extra sources of heat, such as light bulbs, computer and other appliances left running.

8. Avoid caffeine, as well as alcoholic and sweet during hot summer days. Both act as diuretics and promotes further dehydration. If you’re a hardcore coffeeholic and cannot bear the throught of giving up your favorite warm drink for good, at least limit your intake to one small cup in the morning.

9. If you must go outside, make sure to dress appropriately. Lightweight, light-colored clothing can help you stay cooler for longer. Also, wear a hat or umbrella, as well as sunscreen to prevent any unwanted damage to your skin.

10. If you have air conditioning in your home, use it intermittently during the day. Prolonged exposure, especially if you sit near the machine, can have its negative effects as well. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, try to visit public buildings that do, such as libraries, shopping malls, and movie theaters.