Staying Cool in a Heat Wave

If you live on the East Coast, we’re about to tell you something you already know: it’s hot outside. Like, CRAZY hot. Yes, folks, we are in the midst of a heat wave here in Philadelphia, and it is brutal.

Not only is this kind of heat uncomfortable (85 degrees at 8 a.m.? Come on!), but it can also be dangerous. Especially if you are living with a disability or chronic health condition. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for beating the heat and staying healthy.

  • Hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate some more. Even when you’re not thirsty. You see, your body loses water through sweat, and in this kind of heat, chances are you are sweating a lot. Avoid drinks with alcohol or a lot of sugar, as these will dehydrate you further. Put the margarita down and grab a tall glass of ice water instead.
  • Limit time outside. I know it’s a beautiful, sunny day, but do your best to limit your time outdoors. If you want to get some fresh air, stay in the shade and avoid direct sunlight. And, of course, stay extra hydrated.
  • Turn up the AC. Spend time in air conditioned buildings as much as possible, and make sure your shelter is air conditioned. Seriously, folks, an oscillating fan won’t cut it in this type of heat. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, please call Philly’s Heat Line at 215-765-9040. They can help you out.
  • Stay cool. Take cold showers whenever possible, and wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Buddy system. If you are living with a disability, make sure you have someone to check on you at least twice a day during the heatwave – especially if you are living alone. When you have a chronic medical condition, your body may be less likely to sense or react to extreme heat. Plus, medications you are taking may make the effects of that heat even worse. A buddy may be able to spot signs of heat-related illness before you do!

Be sure to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, cold and clammy skin, weak pulse, nausea and even fainting. If someone you know appears to be suffering from heat exhaustion, get them to a cool place, loosen clothing, sip water and place cold washcloths to as much of their body as possible. If they are vomiting, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature above 103 degrees, rapid pulse, hot and red skin and even unconsciousness. If someone you know appears to be suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. While waiting for the ambulance, get them to a cool place and place cold washcloths on as much of their body as possible. Do NOT give them water.

For more information on staying safe in the heat, check out this great resource guide from the CDC.  Stay cool, Philly!

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