Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illness During the Summer Months
The typical southern Arizona summer can be unforgiving. According to Southwestweather.com, south-central Arizona experiences an average of 92 days each year over 100°F. We all know that the climate in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is hot and dry, with low humidity, but sometimes the heat can be challenging. For example, when you get into your car to run errands, you notice that it takes longer for your air conditioning to cool the inside of your car, and before you know it, you arrive at your destination still warm.
Then, in July and August, the monsoon season brings thunderstorms. But the increased humidity does not mean it’s OK to ignore the heat—in fact, the humidity makes our heat even more dangerous.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid heat illness during this hottest part of the year in the Valley.
- Some individuals prefer to exercise outdoors, but during the summer it’s important to change your routine:
- Exercise earlier in the day or later in the evening, when temperatures are lower.
- Drink more water before, during and after exercising. In warmer temperatures, the body loses more water through perspiration, convection (water loss through the body vertically) and radiation (water loss through the body laterally).
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Use sunblock.
- Take frequent breaks.
Populations Without Air Conditioning
- Humidity can be a secret danger because it inhibits the body’s perspiration and can cause the body to overheat. At certain temperatures and humidity levels, an evaporative cooler can bring the temperature down only slightly, compared with a normal dry summer day where it can cool down your home by about 20°F.
- Keep the blinds closed. According to The Washington Post, “up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from windows and curtains being open.”
- Fill a large bowl with ice and place a fan in front of it.
- Change your bed sheets. Fresh cotton sheets will breathe better than ones that are slightly soiled. The cotton breathes better when clean.
- Set ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise. Did you know that ceiling fans should be adjusted seasonally? There is a switch located on the center hub of the fan. By selecting counter-clockwise, the air flows downward, giving a cooling effect.
- Instead of using the oven or stove, eat cold foods or grill outside.
Keep Children Safe Outside
- During the summer, when school is out, children love to ride their bikes, swim with friends and play outside. Though children acclimate quickly to the heat, it is important to teach them how play safe in the summer heat to prevent them from overheating.
- Teach children to drink plenty of water.
- Teach children to play in the shade.
- Give them some change so they can buy a cool treat or drink.
- Have them wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Cotton breathes better and absorbs sweat. The darker the clothing, the more it absorbs heat.
- Schedule indoor activities (movies, shopping, library) for a break from the heat.