How To Stay Safe And Cool In A Heat Wave

girl with sun hat on the beach
Meg Sanchez

Temperatures are rising, pools are filling, happiness is in the air—but so is heat. Right now, large sections of the United States are under a heat advisory and it’s become important (and honestly, sometimes a matter of life and death!) to stay well hydrated, cool, and safe in these extreme temperatures.

If you’re planning on being outside, pay attention to heat waves, heat indexes, and heat warnings, as well as your body (and others around you!). Summer is meant to be enjoyed, and learning what to do to stay healthy and safe will make this season fun instead of stressful.

First of all, if you can, stay inside as much as possible.

I get it. You want to enjoy the air, lay by the pool, run around with the sun on your face. You can, and should do all these things, but not in excess. Especially when there’s an advisory in place.

Be sure to take note of the temperatures, weather, and warnings in your area. If there’s a notice for excessive heat, try to stay inside as much as possible!

Whenever you’re inside, set up air conditioners, fans, or other cooling systems that will help lower your body temperature. Make sure you’re drinking liquids and resting, too, so that you will conserve your energy.

If you have to be outside…

1. Wear sunscreen.

I can’t stress this enough. Even if you’re just going to be outside for a few minutes, or even if it’s a cloudy day, being prepared with sunscreen will prevent you from damaging your skin or being at risk for skin cancer.

There are plenty of sunscreens on the market, especially spray ones for daily use, or light and non-greasy ones that are safe for your face. Find one that fits you and your lifestyle and lather up!

2. Stay well hydrated.

Hydration. Is. Everything. Make sure you’re drinking the recommended amount of water per day, eight 8oz glasses, plus additional if you’re exercising or sweating. Sometimes we brush this off, but water consumption is legitimately life or death.

3. Be smart with kids, elderly, and pets.

It’s important to pay attention to younger and older individuals, who may or may not be able to articulate their needs or body temperatures. Consider how long they’re in the sun or outside. Make sure they have sunscreen, plenty of water, and are in the shade as often as possible. For animals on walks—be sure to assess their breathing/panting and water intake!

4. Know the warning signs of heat stroke.

The warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses can be anything from physical body temperature to rapid pulse, headaches, dizziness, confusion, passing out, tiredness, muscle pain, excessive sweating, nausea, etc. Be sure to pay attention to yourself and others, hydrate, move to a cool place, and call 911/seek medical assistance right away!

Be smart and have fun this summer!

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