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Staying Cool On Hot Summer Days

Perhaps you heard about the “heat dome” weather over Iran that created temperatures of over 160 degrees. Thankfully, it’s not that hot here. Yet our first triple-digit day is expected in Lubbock later this week. With that in mind, we thought it helpful to offer some tips on how to keep your cool on hot summer days.

Overheating the body is called “hyperthermia”. Unchecked, it causes your body temperature to elevate quickly. It will do damage to your internal organs and can be fatal. In the same way that a temperature of 104 degrees sends you running to the hospital, hyperthermia is the same level of deadly serious.

First, some obvious tips. Get out of the sun! Shade is your friend, especially if you’re in a place where coming inside to refrigerated air isn’t an option. If your job requires you to work outside, this is important. A couple months ago I was driving through Carlsbad, New Mexico on a 90+ degree day. I smiled when I saw a road construction worker on the business end of a shovel. He had improvised a large circular piece of cardboard from a box, attaching it and turning his required safety helmet into a sombrero. He made his own shade.

Wear light, breathable clothing. Your body’s response to heat is to do everything it can to dissipate it. Light breathable fabric helps that process. As to color, dark colors absorb heat. Black, brown and dark blue are not your friends if you’re trying to cool off.

Drink water! Lots of it! Most of us make the mistake of waiting till we feel thirsty before we drink water. The problem with that is our body’s signal to drink water lags behind our hydration level. If we wait till we feel thirsty, we’ve waited too long. Drink water and avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and soda. Caffeine can dehydrate you. So chugging down 8 glasses of iced tea isn’t the same as 8 glasses of water.

When I lived in Phoenix, I did a stint as a project biller for a commercial construction company. The job required being out on the streets with blueprints and a measuring wheel. There’s no escaping triple digit heat in Phoenix during the summer. I’d drink as much as a half a gallon of water every hour. When the heat is extreme, it’s really difficult to drink too much water.

Get wet. In dry climates like the desert Southwest, evaporative coolers are readily found. The cooling principle is air blowing over wet fabric or cardboard fiber, lowering the temperature in the house. The same principle applies when you are outside. Soak a towel in water and put it on your head and neck. If you have a garden hose available, you may consider soaking your t-shirt. The water in the fabric when met with a breeze will cool you off.

Watch for signs of heat stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heat cramps are the first sign of heat related illness. Muscles will cramp and you will sweat profusely.

The next step (in order of increasing severity) is heat exhaustion. You will experience muscle weakness, an increased heart rate, dizziness, clammy skin, nausea and fainting.

If you or a person you see is in this condition, get them to a cool place immediately. Get a fan blowing and apply cool wet cloths to as much of their body as possible. Seek medical attention.

The most severe stage of heat illness is heat stroke. If this happens, the person becomes mentally disoriented and incoherent. Their body temperature will be 103 degrees and they will complain of headache, nausea, dizziness and shallow breathing. Their pulse will be rapid and strong. They are in danger of fainting and losing consciousness.

Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 or get them to a hospital immediately. Do NOT delay. Delaying can be fatal. While you’re waiting for help or are in process, get the victim to a cool place, cover their body with cool wet cloths. Do NOT give fluids. That sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s important that you not give fluids.

Your friends at Sinclair want you to stay cool and safe this summer. Of course, we prefer you enjoy the air conditioning in your home and business! We are here to make sure your AC equipment is running at peak efficiency. Give us a call today and we will be there for you! 806-749-COOL (2665)