How to keep your cool: These tips may help you avoid a heat-related illness


The West is currently experiencing a massive heat wave that’s setting record daily high temperatures across the region, resulting in more than 40 million Americans in eight states being under heat warnings.

While people may power up their air conditioners and blast their fans to escape the heat, places such as California and Texas have been advised by power companies to conserve energy to avoid possible rolling blackouts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over 700 people die annually from extreme heat in the United States. As more places in the country could face higher temperatures as the season goes on, here are some expert tips to stay cool for now and the rest of an expected hot summer.

How to keep your cool: These tips may help you avoid a heat-related illness

What happens to your body when it is hot?

Dr. Daniel Vigil, a health science clinical professor at UCLA, told USA TODAY the human body reacts if the core temperature is too hot or too cold. In the case of dealing with extreme heat, when the body temperature gets into the 100 degrees range, things such as liver and kidney failure, as well as brain dysfunction may occur.

“Your body just starts to fail,” Vigil said.

Are heat waves the new normal?:Abnormal temperatures are baking the Western US in triple digits.

Signs your body is suffering from heat

Signs of heat-related illness include headaches, dizziness, nausea and confusion, according to the CDC.

Dr. David Nester from the Mayo Clinic told reporters on Wednesday there are different levels of heat illness.

He says the first thing is heat cramps, which also include heavy sweating and thirst. Next is heat exhaustion, which includes a rapid heart rate. The last, and most severe level, is heatstroke which can cause permanent damage to your body.

“This is a true medical emergency,” Nester said. “It can absolutely result in death.”

Too hot to handle:Heat in Midwest causes roads to buckle

Who is susceptible to heat illness?

The CDC says young children, people 65 and older, and those who are overweight or physically ill are at a higher risk of succumbing to extreme heat.

When places known for their cooler weather, like Denver, experience extreme heat, it may feel different than someone that lives in Southern California, Vigil said. He added it has to do with the concept of acclimatization, or adjusting to a new environment.

“If you’re in a place where you’re just not used to having such an abrupt heat elevation, your body’s not used to it, you’re not climatized. So your ability to dissipate heat, and to maintain a proper body temperature, is going to be challenged,” Vigil said.

What if I don’t have an AC unit or a cool place to be in?

Dr. Grant Lipman, clinical professor of emergency medicine at Stanford, told USA TODAY that one of the easiest ways to cool down is to avoid humid areas and maximize your body’s evaporative cooling.

“Get a spray bottle, get a fan, put the two together and spray yourself with water and fanning it down,” Lipman said. “You’re basically inducing more evaporative cooling, so I think that’s the easy fix.”

Lipman added that if you or someone you know is suffering from the heat, the best immediate thing to do is cool them down.

“Cover their head with cold water to get that wet cooling going because every second that’s delayed, you have cells that are being destroyed and the mortality goes up significantly,” he said.

Staying hydrated…

Drinking water and staying hydrated may seem the obvious thing to do when it’s hot, but it’s actually not that simple.

“(People) shouldn’t just drink plain water all day, they should try to have something with it. A juice is fine, and this is where the sports drinks actually really come in handy,” Nestler said.

Vigil said a reason why people shouldn’t drink just water is because when the body sweats, there are some electrolytes in the sweat which sports drinks can help replenish.

Vigil and Lipman also both warn that drinking too much water can cause water intoxication, which can be fatal.

“Try not more than a liter per hour and be eating salty snacks at the same time,” Lipman said.

…but not with alcohol

As perfect as a cold beer sounds on a hot day, Lipman said drinking excess amounts of alcohol isn’t the best thing to do because it increases urination and dehydration, meaning people can get hotter faster.

“Excess alcohol with excess heat is a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Things not to do

Lipman said there are multiple things people shouldn’t do like stay in direct sunlight for too long or not wear sunscreen, and he highlighted the importance of having a plan.

“Everyone realizes that they have a plan of cold weather by bundling up in layers, people don’t think of how they can prepare for this hot weather by taking some simple precautions,” Lipman said. “The reality is that you can get a whole bunch of trouble really easily in these kinds of conditions.”

Vigil added that people shouldn’t ignore symptoms of heat stress, as taking action may save someone.

“For a person to recognize it or for a friend to recognize it in the suffering person and do something about it is not just appropriate, but actually could be life-saving,” he said.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Arkansas leads nation in COVID-19 case rate as vaccinations lag; study touts benefits of second shot: Live updates

Cases of COVID-19 have doubled in the U.S. in the past two weeks and Arkansas is becoming a case study in how low vaccination rates can fuel the spread of ... Read more »

Lockdown kilos: Chef Dan Hong reveals how he maintains weight loss

The expression “never trust a skinny chef” might be catchy enough to see it emblazoned on the tea towels and aprons you buy your mum as a last-minute Christmas gift, ... Read more »

Sunscreen recall 2021: J&J recalling select Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen due to presence of benzene

Johnson & Johnson is recalling five of its sunscreen products after low levels of benzene were found. Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen has been recalled in all sizes and ... Read more »

Long Covid: how singing helps overcome it, making it easier to breathe and clearing away brain fog

Singing was the only time I felt in control of my lungs and, paradoxically, able to forget about them. It was October and my shortness of breath had worsened after ... Read more »

Texas resident hospitalized with rare monkeypox diagnosis 18 years after outbreak in US

A Texas resident who recently traveled from Africa has been hospitalized after catching what the Texas Department of State Health Services believes is the first case of monkeypox in the ... Read more »

Los Angeles County reports 1K cases for fifth straight day; Indonesia's daily cases surpass India's: Live COVID-19 updates

Cases and deaths from COVID-19 rose in more than half of U.S. states over the past week as vaccination rates slow and the highly transmissible delta variant spreads across the ... Read more »

COVID-19 fall surge begins early due to the rise of cases related to the Delta variant

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the U.S. as fall approaches, and the biggest concern is children, according to health experts. Read more »

Nam June Paik Art Center remembers legacy of video art pioneer

“Hommage a Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, Dusseldorf (1978)” by Manfred Leve, a photograph of Paik which is on display at the exhibition “Humor Has it.” (Manfred Leve)Nam June Paik Art Center, the ... Read more »

'We have not yet seen the peak': St John ambulance service struggle to cope with demand as winter bites

Ambulance services across the country have been struggling to cope with “extreme” demand and St John fears worse is yet to come. St John national deputy chief executive of ambulance ... Read more »

Cardiologist’s new book tells how to take care of your ticker

“Am I going to live?” is a question that cardiologist Johan Janssen has answered countless times. “People with a heart problem want to know what they can do to survive, ... Read more »

Dr. Rochelle Walensky: Covid-19 outbreak is becoming 'a pandemic of the unvaccinated'

During a White House briefing Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said the Covid-19 outbreak is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Read more »

The fourth wave of COVID-19 cases is here. Will we escape the UK's fate? It's too soon to know.

<p>A doubling of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks suggests the United States has entered a fourth wave of the pandemic.</p><p>No one knows what the next month or two ... Read more »

University of California requires vaccines; Los Angeles County to mandate masks indoors: Live COVID-19 updates

The University of California said Thursday that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required before the fall term begins for all students and faculty, amid rising cases in the state. “Vaccination is ... Read more »

Victim of panic attacks turns negative into a positive by depicting the moments in miniature as matchbox art – a ‘symbolic way of storing her emotions’

Canadian artist and storyteller Rachel Smith was helping a friend at an exhibition when, out of the blue, her heart began racing and she felt she couldn’t breathe. Frightened and ... Read more »

F45 founder earns $529 million in one day

F45 fitness founder and CEO Adam Gilchrist has just become one of the wealthiest people in Australia after a staggering result from floating his company on the New York Stock ... Read more »

Covid 19 coronavirus: Victoria to go into lockdown as Melbourne outbreak grows to 16

Melbourne will go into its fifth Covid-19 lockdown tonight as health authorites work to contain two separate Delta strain clusters and a rapidly expanding list of exposure sites. The planned ... Read more »

Overdose deaths hit record number in US in 2020 amid pandemic

NEW YORK – Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government reported Wednesday. That estimate far eclipses the high ... Read more »

Brenda shows us the power of compassion

Compassion surrounds our lives at the times we need it the most. We receive it from our close ones when we go through hardship, big and small, and we give ... Read more »

‘Not completely surprising’: Experts expected Guillain-Barré to appear in some COVID vaccine recipients. Here’s why.

Even though the Food and Drug Administration updated the warning label on Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to include an increased risk of a rare neurological disorder, health experts say ... Read more »

Monash IVF to call on embryologists to defend ‘destroyed eggs’ class action

Monash IVF will likely call on expert embryologists to defend claims it incorrectly destroyed viable embryos, ending some women’s hopes of having children, a court has been told. The IVF ... Read more »

Hospitalizations in younger children rising in 2 states; WHO says delta variant will become dominant globally: Live COVID-19 updates

Seven Mississippi children are currently in the hospital due to coronavirus infections, with two of the young people on life support, a top health official said on Twitter Tuesday. State ... Read more »

[Newsmaker] Govt. plan on 'Lee Kun-hee museum' draws debate on location, purpose

This composite photo, provided by Samsung Electronics Co., shows some of the 23,000 pieces of art donated by the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee. (Samsung Electronics Co.)The government’s plan ... Read more »

Kids under 12 know about COVID vaccine even though they can't get it

Kids under the age of 12 who can’t be vaccinated might know more than you think about COVID-19 and the vaccine. Read more »

America's fittest city has claimed the title for the fourth straight year

Researchers ranked the 100 most populous cities naming Arlington, Virginia the top city for the fourth year straight. Read more »

Do you need a booster shot for COVID-19? It's not recommended, yet. Here's what to know.

Israel is offering a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people who are immune compromised. Since April, France has encouraged the same for transplant recipients, dialysis patients and those on ... Read more »

Your dog could pass antibiotic-resistant superbugs to you – researchers find them in raw pet food

Antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” – which the World Health Organisation calls one of the top global threats to public health – usually conjure images of hospital settings. But new research may point ... Read more »

Covid 19 coronavirus: NSW records 89 new cases, Deputy Premier says govt 'lost control' of outbreak

New South Wales has recorded 89 new community cases of Covid-19, taking Sydney’s outbreak to a total of 767 infections. Of today’s cases, 75 are linked to a known case ... Read more »

'My heart was racing': the rise of generation panic

Agi Heale’s first panic attack came out of the blue. She was by her desk in the middle of the day, at the financial services recruitment company in London where ... Read more »

Corporate watchdog takes SmileDirectClub to court, alleging thousands misled by teeth straightening insurance claims

Tens of thousands of Australians ordered clear teeth aligners and underwent treatment after allegedly being incorrectly told their health insurance would cover part of it, conduct the corporate watchdog has ... Read more »

America's fittest city is ... Arlington, Virginia – for the fourth straight year, study finds

Americans were shut out of gyms and other indoor exercise venues much of last year as COVID-19 raged and leaders locked down group gatherings. The annual ranking of the fittest ... Read more »

[Herald Interview] Sculptor Yi Hwan-kwon casts light on vanity of things with shadows

An installation view of “Yi Hwankwon Solo Exhibition” at Gallery Yeh in Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) Sculptor Yi Hwan-kwon’s works easily catch people’s attention. His signature sculptures, made using ... Read more »

Most and least vaccinated states show differences in case rates; FDA issues new warning on J&J vaccine: Live COVID-19 updates

When looking at the disparities between the most and the least vaccinated states, the COVID-19 case rates indicate stark differences. Over the past week, states that have fully vaccinated more ... Read more »

Why the New Zealand Olympic team needs to dress like Team USA

OPINION: As New Zealand’s finest athletes gather their passports and get ready to embark on one of the proudest moments of their lives, I find myself overwhelmed with one qualm. ... Read more »

Please do stop the music: South Korea says gym workout jams must be slow amid COVID outbreak

For those that like listening to music to amp themselves up at the gym in South Korea, they’ll have to find alternative ways to get them ready for their workout ... Read more »

Six diet and lifestyle strategies for post-Covid-19 recovery – Indian doctor’s blueprint to get rid of lingering symptoms

Fellow Covid-19 survivors will immediately connect with the opening line in Dr Vishakha Shivdasani’s book, Covid and Post Covid Recovery. “Surviving is not the same as recovery, doctor. I have ... Read more »

New committee to be formed to select Korean Pavilion curator for Venice Biennale 2022

The Korean Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale (Arts Council Korea)The Arts Council Korea has announced that a new committee will be formed for the selection of the curator ... Read more »

Pfizer, health officials to meet about vaccine booster shots; California to require face masks at schools: Live COVID-19 updates

Representatives from Pfizer and federal health officials, who sent out conflicting signals about the need for vaccine booster shots, are planning to meet as soon as Monday, according to Reuters. ... Read more »

V&A Museum to highlight Korean wave

Victoria and Albert Museum’s Korean gallery (Yonhap)Responding to the worldwide popularity of Korean pop culture, Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum will hold an exhibition titled “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” as ... Read more »

South Australian woman, 72, likely died from AstraZeneca vaccine

Health officials in South Australia have confirmed a 72-year-old woman died after having the AstraZeneca vaccine. Her death is likely linked to the jab, which would make it the first ... Read more »