How to Stay Cool and Hydrated in the Heat


High temperatures kill hundreds of people every year, especially seniors and those with compromised health conditions. With more than seven hundred people dying from extreme heat every year, had they been armed with the correct facts on how to stay cool and hydrated in the heat – these tragedies could have been prevented.

It is especially concerning for retired folks who have not adjusted to the Florida heat yet. Wearing lightweight and light-colored clothing, staying in shaded areas, and using fans or air conditioning can also help regulate body temperature. Additionally, taking cool showers or baths, applying cold compresses, and eating smaller, lighter meals can aid in staying cool. Being proactive and mindful of these strategies can make a significant difference in staying safe and comfortable.

Let’s not forget about those of us women, ok middle-aged women going through a hormonal transition that triggers many hot flashes per day, depending on different factors. I am already fearing the upcoming hot season for two reasons:

  1. No air conditioning
  2. I am that pre-menopausal, middle-aged woman

Many things affect a body’s ability to cool itself during extreme heat:

  • High humidity
  • When humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate quickly as it is designed to do, keeping your body from releasing heat as fast as it needs to, ultimately risking heat stroke
  • Personal factors 
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Poor circulation
  • Sunburn
  • Prescription drug and alcohol use

People with the highest risk:

  1. People 65 and older
  2. Children younger than two
  3. People who have chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease
  4. People with mental illness

The American Red Cross recommends, “An average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of water daily. Everyone’s needs may vary. You can check that you are getting enough water by noting your urine color. Dark yellow may indicate you are not drinking enough. Avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. If you are sweating a lot, combine water with snacks or a sports drink to replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

Talk to your doctor about how to prepare if you have a medical condition or are taking medicines,”.

How do you stay cool in extreme heat and humidity?

Extreme heat is exceedingly hot weather that stretches over a prolonged period of time that could also include high humidity too. In places like Michigan or Florida, high humidity usually goes right along with high temperatures. For example, a “heatwave” is typically defined as a period of three or more consecutive days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or around thirty-two degrees Celsius.

In an effort to remain safe and cool, it is imperative to understand the signs of heat-related illnesses:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Cramps
  • High body temperature
  • Fast pulse

Should you experience any amount of these symptoms, contact medical help immediately, move to a cooler place, or call 911 if it is very advanced. Always call 911 in an emergency! Suppose you or someone around you is showing definite signs of heatstroke, such as:

  • A body temperature over 103 degrees
  • Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
  • A rapid and strong pulse
  • Unconsciousness

While waiting for professional medical help to appear on the scene, move the person into a cool area, help cool them down with wet towels or a cool bath, and DO NOT give them fluids.

What can I drink to stay hydrated in the heat?

  1. Water
  2. Water is one of the best drinks to fight dehydration
  3. Electrolyte-Infused Water
  4. What is better than water is water with electrolytes. When you are dehydrated, you are depleted of electrolytes that help the kidneys function
  5. Pedialyte
  6. Gatorade
  7. Homemade Electrolyte-Rich Drink
  8. With the right ingredients, you can whip up your own electrolyte-infused drink. The key includes sugar, salt, and plenty of water. This delicious lemon-ginger electrolyte drink recipe calls for ginger, lemon, lime juice, agave, sea salt, and mineral water.
  9. Watermelon
  10. It is not a drink; however, watermelon is ninety-two percent water, and watermelon provides large doses of vitamin A, vitamin C, and electrolytes
  11. Coconut Water
  12. Coconut water is nature’s version of a sports drink. It contains five main electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium. Like a sports drink, coconut water also has sugar. What’s the difference, then? A store-bought sports drink has up to four times as much sodium as coconut water, but it also contains high-fructose corn syrup instead of natural glucose and fructose

What to avoid when you’re dehydrated

Contrary to the list above, there are drinks that will make you more dehydrated, such as drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Avoid reaching for coffee, tea, and soda, no matter how refreshing it looks. As for alcoholic beverages, keep this in mind: the higher the alcohol concentration, the more dehydrating the drink.

When you’re dehydrated, it’s essential to steer clear of beverages that can worsen the situation. Caffeine, found in coffee and many teas, is a diuretic that can increase fluid loss by promoting more frequent urination. Similarly, sodas often contain caffeine and added sugars, both of which can deplete hydration levels. Alcohol, known for its dehydrating effects, can disrupt the body’s fluid balance and lead to further dehydration.

It’s best to opt for hydrating choices to replenish lost fluids effectively. The healthier drink options not only provide hydration but also help restore essential electrolytes lost through sweating. Be mindful of the beverages you choose during hot weather to support your body in maintaining proper hydration levels and beating the heat.

How to stay cool and hydrated in the heat

In conclusion, staying cool and hydrated in extreme heat is crucial for overall health and well-being, especially for high-risk individuals. By being proactive, avoiding dehydrating beverages, and opting for hydrating options, one can effectively combat the dangers of heat-related illnesses. Remember, staying safe in the heat starts with staying cool and hydrated. And please keep an eye on the elderly and those most in danger during extreme heat.

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