April Daniels Hussar, SELF magazine
Just in time for the first day of summer, there's a heat wave in town! The Eastern half of the country started broiling today -- right in the middle of the work week!
While hot weather can be uncomfortable and annoying (boob sweat!), extreme heat can also be dangerous. Here are some handy tips on how to stay cool -- and safe -- from Jeff Rabrich, M.D, the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at St. Luke's - Roosevelt Hospitals in New York and Bess Catherine Stillman, M.D., an emergency room physician at Beth Israel Medical Center, also in New York City.
1. Plan ahead. If you have to do chores or plan to exercise outdoors, try to avoid the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day, says Dr. Rabrich.
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2. Dress smart. Good thing white is a hot summer trend! Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored colored clothing will help heat dissipate from your body, says Dr. Rabrich. What better excuse to treat yourself to some new maxi dresses?
3. Drink up! What's the best beverage to combat dehydration? "Water, water, water," says Dr. Stillman. Also, it may be tempting to look up a recipe for margarita popsicles, but steering clear of alcohol and caffeine is your best bet, since both can be dehydrating. Dr. Stillman recommends carrying a water bottle with you and drinking throughout the day. "If you wait until you feel thirsty," she says, "you're already dehydrated." Plus, it may sound funny, but Dr. Stillman says keeping an eye on your pee can tell you if you're hydrated enough -- it should be clear like water!
4. Water sounds boring? Make it yummier! Dr. Stillman suggests adding cucumber and raspberry to your water, or you can try fresh mint, lemon and lime. Or, for a boost of omega-3s with your H2O, Dr. Stillman says to add a teaspoon of chia seeds (available at health food stores) to your glass. "It tastes better than putting salmon in your water!" she says.
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5. Feeling overheated? Get out of the heat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's really important to go someplace cool if you're feeling too hot, says Dr. Rabrich. Some of our favorite cool places: the mall, the movies and Starbucks (have you ever noticed it's always super cold in Starbucks?!).
6. Eat watermelon. Dr. Stillman says eating fruits that are high in water content can help you stay hydrated and cool, and SELF contributing editors Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, registered dietitians and co-founders of C&J Nutrition, say watermelon is PACKED with water (not to mention vitamins A and C and phytonutrients!).
Clarke and Jarosh recommend tossing watermelon cubes with fresh coconut, then drizzling them with hot sauce -- it's a traditional (and delicious) flavor combination in Mexico. Or blend watermelon with a couple sprigs of mint for a cooling summer beverage!
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7. Going for a swim? Great, says Dr. Stillman, but keep in mind that sunlight reflected off the water can give you a severe sunburn. Reapply sunscreen often, wear a hat, take breaks in the shade and don't forget -- just because you're in and surrounded by water doesn't mean you don't need to DRINK lots of water!
8. Check your medications. According to Dr. Stillman, some antihistamines and certain antidepressants can put you at a higher risk for heat exhaustion, because they can keep you from sweating effectively, and certain antibiotics can increase your sensitivity to sunburn. So it's a good idea to check labels and consult with your doctor.
9. Spritz yourself! Dr. Rabrich explains that sweat is your body's mechanism for cooling itself down. So anything that helps sweat dissipate, like a spray of water that dries and evaporates, can help cool you off. A spray bottle or even one of those fans with water will do the trick nicely.
10. Get chilly. Ice compresses cool you down quickly, says Dr. Stillman, especially when applied under your arms and to your groin, because those areas have lots of blood vessels. And hey -- if you have a friend in Japan, have her send you an ice bra. Yep -- that's a real thing, and will sure cool you down fast!