Toi Degree: How to keep your cool in the heat

Published 12:05 am Sunday, July 31, 2016

SALISBURY — As the temperature continues to soar this summer, you may start feeling dehydrated, tired and exhausted.

Summer heat can be dangerous if you don’t take care of yourself. Excessive heat can cause many heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, summer cold, smallpox and sunstroke, which all are life threatening.

You can avoid health-related illnesses by reducing your exposure to excessive heat and taking some precautionary measures to stay cool during the summer. Keep reading for a few tips on how to beat the heat.

Stay well hydrated:

Drink plenty of fluids. In addition to drinking enough water, there are lots of foods, cold beverages and sports drinks that are rich in electrolytes to keep you well hydrated and replace lost minerals, cool down body temperature and avoid heat-related illness. While sweating is healthy and the body’s way of cooling itself down, be aware that hot and humid weather can cause heavy sweating which can result in dehydration and heat cramps.

Various types of melon like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew can help to stay well hydrated and also act as diuretics to remove unwanted toxins from the body. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapes and lemons are the most refreshing and best cooling agents to beat summer heat.

Cucumber, mint and radish are some other great options to keep the body cool and hydrated. They are rich sources of water and help the body fight stress and exhaustion. Coconut water is another drink that is said to keep your body’s water level in balance.

Stay indoors:

It is always best to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, which is usually mid-afternoon. But, if it is necessary to go out, wear a hat, use an umbrella and wear sunglasses to cut the heat. Don’t allow your children to play outside during midday.

Cover up when you’re going out:

Tight-fitting and dark-colored clothes will trap heat and make you feel more warm and uncomfortable. Use light-colored, loose fitting clothes, which will reflect heat and maintain normal body temperature. Also, wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

Avoid strenuous activities:

Try to eliminate strenuous activities during sun’s peak hours. If you exercise regularly, start early in the morning or in the evenings when the sun is not too hot. Start slow and gradually pick up the pace; take scheduled breaks. If you feel uneasy, rest before resuming.

Use cold water to cool your body:

Soaking your feet in ice cold water can help cool down the entire body and feel refreshed. There is another way to lower the body temperature: fill a spray bottle with chilled water, and spray yourself from time to time on pulse points of the body like neck, wrist, and temples of the head. Wipe excess water with a hand towel. This will help your body cool down.

Eat chilled and frozen foods:

Chilled fruit, juices, beverages, ice creams, popsicles and other frozen treats are very refreshing and delightful in the summer and keep you cool.

Turn off unused appliances:

Appliances that run on electricity create their own heat. Turn off appliances like televisions, laptops, lights, etc. when you are not using them. Unplugging them will reduce heat.

Get help immediately for symptoms 

Please keep all of the tips above in mind, and stay cool.  We will have many more hot days ahead as August approaches.  Just remember not to overdo it, limit exposure, and drink plenty of fluids. Enjoy the remainder of your summer.

For more information, feel free to contact Toi N. Degree, Family & Consumer Education Agent, at Rowan County Cooperative Extension (704-216-8970) or