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Heat Wave Turns Deadly: 10 Ways to Protect Your Family

heat wave, record temperatures

It's gonna be another hot day...

No matter where you live in the U.S., chances are you are HOT.  According to Scientific American, “Extreme heat is scorching much of the eastern United States, and it’s not expected to let up anytime soon.”  Even a word as intense as scorching is hardly potent enough to describe the kind of heat we’re experiencing here in the five boroughs.  As my cab driver put it yesterday, “I feel like the sun is cooking me.  I feel like it’s boiling my eyeballs.”  Yeah.

I have a pretty high tolerance for heat, which is why for most of the summer, I’ve been pleasantly cool – even without an air conditioner.  But the heat wave of the past few days has changed my mind about the necessity of AC, because it’s not cooling off at night.  Scientific American reports, “The coolest parts of the day are getting warmer, making it harder for people — especially those without air conditioning — to recover from daytime heat exposure.”

CDC epidemiologist Rebecca Noe describes extreme heat as a “silent killer.”  A 2005 study about the effects of extreme heat revealed that “elderly people were more likely to die indoors, while those who died outside were more likely to be younger, working in outdoor occupations or homeless.”  Noe says that “people can be caught unprepared for heat waves,” and with heat indexes remaining well over 100 degrees across the country, it’s important for you to know exactly how to beat the heat.  Here are 10 tips for keeping your family safe in this summer swelter:


  • DRINK WATER – LOTS OF IT. 1 of 10
    DRINK WATER - LOTS OF IT.
    Keep filled water bottles on hand at all times! My daughter is 5 and likes the chance to run to the sink and fill up her water bottle, so putting your young ones on "water bottle duty" is a way to make them feel responsible and to help keep them healthy. Also, be sure everyone in your family knows to check the color of their pee before they flush! Kinda gross, I know, but it's an important indicator of how hydrated you are. Your pee should be close to clear, not dark yellow. Photo via Flickr.
  • GET WET! 2 of 10
    GET WET!
    If your home is not air conditioned or you plan on spending lots of time outside, be sure to take a cold shower, go swimming or run under the hose. It was so hot in New York last night, my daughter and I took a dip in the ocean around 7, but then because it's not cooling off at night, we ended up taking cold showers at 4 o'clock in the morning. Remember, before you squirt anyone with a hose, make sure the water coming out of it is cold. Hoses that are out in the sun all day can get very, very hot. Photo via Flickr.
  • EAT COLD MEALS 3 of 10
    EAT COLD MEALS
    Eating simple meals that don't require any cooking will benefit you in two ways. If you eat cold foods like fruit, uncooked vegetables and sandwiches, your body will stay cooler - and not having to use your oven or stove means your house won't get any hotter, either. Photo via Flickr.
  • AVOID USING APPLIANCES/ELECTRONICS 4 of 10
    AVOID USING APPLIANCES/ELECTRONICS
    During extreme heat, it's best to avoid using appliances or electronics unnecessarily. All electronic equipment radiates heat when in use, so, for example, if you must run your dishwasher, do so after the sun goes down. If you can, unplug appliances and electronics you're not using, which will also help avoid brownouts and blackouts. Photo via Flickr.
  • CLOSE YOUR BLINDS/CURTAINS 5 of 10
    CLOSE YOUR BLINDS/CURTAINS
    I know it seems counter-intuitive, but closing your curtains or blinds keeps the heat from the sun out of your house. Same thing for keeping your doors closed. When it's in the 70s, go ahead and enjoy that cross-breeze. But when temperatures hit the 90s, keep your place shut-up. Photo via Flickr.
  • WEAR LIGHT CLOTHING 6 of 10
    WEAR LIGHT CLOTHING
    This is a no-brainer, but put your jeans away. Loose-fitting dresses and shorts work well for adults and kids. Lighter colors keep you cooler, as well. If you're going outside in a tank top, be sure to wear sunscreen (obvs). Photo via Flickr.
  • SPEND SOME TIME IN A CONTROLLED CLIMATE 7 of 10
    SPEND SOME TIME IN A CONTROLLED CLIMATE
    If you don't have AC at home, go to the movies, the mall, a cafe, a museum or a cooling center. Try to find a place that isn't arctic, though, because moving in and out of extreme cold and heat makes it hard for your body to regulate its temperature, and I always find that really chilly AC makes me sick. You shouldn't need a sweater indoors when it's 100 degrees outside. Photo via Flickr.
  • SLEEP WITH A COOL WASHCLOTH 8 of 10
    SLEEP WITH A COOL WASHCLOTH
    I place a cool washcloth on my daughter's head every night when it's very hot, and I sleep with one on my chest, too. And keep those water bottles by your bedside in case you wake up parched in the middle of the night! Photo via Flickr.
  • CHECK ON ELDERLY RELATIVES EVERY DAY 9 of 10
    CHECK ON ELDERLY RELATIVES EVERY DAY
    As I mentioned earlier, heat is especially difficult on the elderly, so it's very important to check in on your loved ones each day, maybe even a few times a day. Make sure Grandma and Grandpa are drinking lots and lots of water! Photo via Flickr.
  • AVOID ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE 10 of 10
    AVOID ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE
    Trust me, I know how good a cold beer can feel going down when the weather is really hot, but alcohol is a diuretic and it can dehydrate you to dangerous levels. The caffeine in coffee, tea and soda can have the same effect, so try to limit your consumption. (I'm having an iced coffee right now, but I've cut my coffee consumption by 3/4 in the last few days.) Photo via Flickr.

Source: Scientific American

Main photo via Flickr

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