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Wellness Tips: Twelve tips for staying cool

This column was written by Betsy Adams special to the Demopolis Times.

Keeping cool when temperatures soar isn’t just about comfort. Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The following tips can help you keep cool all summer long.

1. Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can’t change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead of running, or decreasing your level of exertion. Work out indoors whenever possible, in the air conditioning. 

2. Wear loose-fitting light colored clothing. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.

3. There are some cooling towels and scarves and such that are cooled in the freezer or cooler and will help you stay cooler for a few hours. Some even have a pouch for ice, which can really help if you must work in the heat.

4. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.

5. Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.

6. Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you’re ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you’ll have a supply of cold water with you.

7. Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.

8. Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water. If you will be working outside or just outside for an extended period of time in the heat, in addition to drinking water, drinking sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes may also be helpful.

9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.

10. Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. Many fruits contain lots of water (like watermelon) which will increase your fluid intake. As an added benefit, you won’t have to heat up your kitchen with a hot stove.

11. If you don’t have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a public space that is cool.

12. Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces.

With some advance planning, and using common sense, we can hopefully make it through the summer temperatures without any heat-related illnesses. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don’t forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Please take care when you must be out in this heat. And remember, the Wellness Center is nice and cool!

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, July 24 issue of the Demopolis Times.)