Summer in Florida can be like Double Summer. It’s twice as hot and twice as humid, making you twice as cranky and the electric bill twice as much per month. However, you can keep your cool in summer, and stay healthy at the same time. It’s most important to avoid heat prostrastion or heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or other heat related syndromes such as heat syncope, heat rash, and heat cramps. Heat stroke is the most serious of the three, with unmistakable symptoms.
- Confusion and disorientation, changes in normal behavior such as lethargy or belligerence.
- Seizures, lack of co-ordination, and staggering.
- Rapid heartbeat and respiration.
- Complaints of headache or nausea followed by vomiting.
- Lack of sweating after heavy sweating, combined with a fever of 105F or above.
Any combination of those symptoms above is a “Call 911!” type of emergency, and icebags should be placed at the neck, under the arms, and at the top of the thighs in order to help bring down the body temperature. This is heat stroke and is not something that you can treat at home, but something that requires an ER. Any fever over 105 is an instant cause for alarm, and can require medical intervention to prevent further damage to the body or even death. Tips for staying cool – when you can’t veg it in the AC all day – are as follows:
- Time your exertion such as walking the dog, mowing the lawn, washing the car, or exercising outside to the hours of the early morning or late evening.
- Wear light colored, loose clothing in breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics.
- Water. Water. Stay hydrated with water and even Pedialyte. Drink until your urine is clear or light colored.
- Steer clear of sodas and alcohol – you can become dehydrated with both.
- Wear a hat or carry a parasol to provide portable shade.
- Eat lots of fruit and veggies – there are a lot of cold, refreshing soups that pair up great with a light salad and a grilled chicken breast or fish.
- Personal cooling like thermal towels, spray bottles with fans, and even cool vests can help you stay chilly.
- Put a timer on the air conditioner at home to come on during the hottest part of the day and keep the house and pets cool.
- Think about an air conditioned dog house, cooling beds, and even a pool for the four-footed friends. Make sure they can get plenty of water, too. They need to stay hydrated just as much as you do – and you’re not wearing a fur coat!
- Finally, get in the water. At the beach, the river, the splash pad, the pool, or the water park. Do your best to be a Florida gator, but don’t forget the sunscreen!
If you like, share your favorite cooling off tips and spots with us, and we can all beat the heat this year. We really want everyone to have a happy and safe summer, so take these tips and add your own.