10 Aug Surviving the August Summer Heat: The Importance of Staying Cool
The terribly hot days of summer are nearing an end, but they are still here. So now is not the time to get complacent about staying cool and avoiding the sun as much as possible. With things only promising to get hotter over the coming years, it’s even more important now to learn why you need to regulate your body temperature, what excessive heat can do to your body, and the best ways to stay cool in general.
It’s a well-known fact that excessive heat can cause parts of your body to stop working properly. The process of keeping your body cool (sweating being the main function) can divert energy and attention away from other parts of the body. Moreover, the heat itself can strain the heart and the lungs, causing them to behave erratically. One of the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion is dizziness and tiredness. But as the heat exhaustion progresses and gets worse, you might experience an irregular pulse, nausea, and fainting.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to stay in an air-conditioned place. The controlled climate that air-conditioning provides means that most of the causes of heat exhaustion (namely, heat) are prevented from the outset, and you don’t need much more than water at that stage. However, if this isn’t an option for whatever reason, doctors suggest that the next best thing is to stay as hydrated as is humanly possible. In fact, you should drink water even when you aren’t thirsty or if you don’t think you’re even suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke. That’s because it’s here we get to one of the scary parts of all of this:
One of the symptoms of heatstroke is the refusal to believe you’re suffering from heatstroke.
Yes, it’s true. As your brain starts to slow down and you begin to hear your heartbeat in your head, the result tends to be partial confusion. Do you know how in movies, someone wandering the desert for too long will start seeing mirages? It isn’t just a result of the sand dunes. It’s the result of the brain shutting down some of its processes so it can focus single-mindedly on keeping you alive.
So sometimes, if you’ve been out for too long and you just don’t know why people are telling you you’re experiencing heatstroke, it might be because you are. And if that’s the case, at that point, getting into an air-conditioned building might not be enough, and immediate medical attention is recommended.
However, when the first beads of sweat start to form, your options are much broader. First, of course, staying hydrated is key. But what kinds of drinks help and which hinder? Basic water is good, but in some circumstances, liquids with a lot of electrolytes like Gatorade can be better. Caffeinated beverages, like any kind of soda or coffee or liquids with alcohol, are counter-productive. These drinks dehydrate more than they hydrate and can worsen the problem relatively quickly.
But what if you aren’t outside? What if you’re at home, and you either don’t have AC, or it’s broken? The rules above also apply, but you can do a few other things on top of that. Firstly, keep the windows open – all of them. Place fans within the window frames to keep the air circulating within the house. The last thing you need during a heatwave is for your living place to keep all the heat in.
Another thing to try is keeping ice wrapped in a rag or washcloth and press it to your forehead. Keeping the head cool is more important than the rest of your body, as the cold tends to trickle downward. And as discussed before, heat can cause the brain to start shutting down. So when the ice melts and causes the rag or washcloth to become wet, that’s fine too. Being wet, in general, helps the body regulate heat (it’s one of the reasons why sweating cools the body down). If you’re feeling desperate enough, wetting the clothes you’re wearing around the house creates a constant supplement to heat regulation.
All in all, it is crucial to understand how important it is to keep yourself cool during summer or in any heat-intensive situation and to always keep hydrated. If you do not have AC currently, it might be a good idea to find a way to acquire it in the near future. Small window units have become less expensive and can make all the difference in keeping you from harm because of the heat.