Stay cool this summer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2006

With the temperatures rising, there are some precautions local residents should take. Considering that it will only get hotter, the American Red Cross recommends we take the following steps in the warm weather.

Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy.

Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Your body needs water to keep cool.

Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.

Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

In addition, here are some additional tips if you are going to be out in the sun:

Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing. Light colors reflect the sun’s rays. Loose fitting clothing allows air to circulate between the clothing and the body. Clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton are best because they allow air to flow through to the skin.

Wear a hat. A light colored hat protects your head from the sun’s rays. Remember, your head houses your brain, your body’s personal computer.

Use a sunscreen. A sunscreen containing PABA with SPF 15 or greater protects the skin from ultraviolet rays. Reapply throughout the day, as sunscreen becomes less effective when diluted by perspiration.

It’s also a good idea to check on elderly neighbors who do not have air conditioning. Stay cool and stay hydrated and let’s get through the summer heat safely.