How to cool down when it’s really hot
BILLIONtemperatures are rising globally. Heat record already making waves in the United States as well as Europe and China, and the hottest part of summer is still ahead. For most people, that means more time spent in a sweaty and sticky pile.
Dr. Grant Lipman, emergency physician and founder of Global Outdoor Emergency Support Health App (GOES). “This is a problem for all different demographics and social classes.”
Heat can really cause discomfort and discomfort; Research has linked high temperature with aggression and violenceas worse life satisfaction. It can also be dangerous: Excessive heat is one of the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the US every year, claims about 158 lives per year nationwide for more than 30 years.
Here’s what to know about why heat bothers some people more than others, and the most effective ways to cool down fast.
How does the body regulate temperature?
Human body thermostat in a number of different ways: by vaporization (in other words, by sweating); radiate, or release heat into the surrounding air; convection, which happens when you’re surrounded by cooler air (that’s why air conditioner very effective); and conduction, or transfer of body heat to cold water or ice.
Heather Massey, senior lecturer in clinical exercise physiology and member of the Harsh Environment Laboratory at the University of Portsmouth, UK, says some people are more susceptible to heat than others, often depending dependent on the environment, physiology and prior exposure to heat. “Especially if you are more suited to aerobics and if you are regularly exposed to increased body temperature through exercise, you may be better adapted to warmer environments or body temperature. higher,” she said.
However, if you’ve spent a lot of time in a cold environment, you may find the transition to heat more difficult. After a few days of exposure to warm weather, “most people start to adapt,” notes Massey. “But if you’re always in and out of the air conditioning, that could be a problem.”
Lipman says you can train for better heat tolerance, and it usually takes about a week for your body to begin to adapt and find better ways to cool itself. For example, if you’re going hiking the Grand Canyon, where you know it’s going to be scorching, Lipman recommends exercising in warm weather for an hour or two each day for about 10 days before starting the activity. motion. During that time, “your body’s response starts to become more resistant to heat stress, which means you can get rid of heat faster,” he says.
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Lipman says being aware of the temperature and humidity of the day and planning accordingly can help prevent heat illness. He and other experts highlight these safety strategies that everyone should use when temperatures reach about 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. (Since heat tolerance is individual, some people will be more susceptible to the effects of lower temperatures.)
Avoid exercising at certain times. The heat tends to peak in the afternoon, so plan your outdoor activities in the morning. Jennifer Bontreger, a sports medicine specialist in Highland Village, Texas, trains the athletes she works with for early morning workouts. It also usually gets cooler in the evening.
Dress properly. Amy Acton, a former nurse and executive director of the Phoenix nonprofit Association for Burn Survivors, advises prioritizing clothing that’s loose, lightweight, and UV-resistant. (People with severe burns often lose the ability to sweat, which means survivors are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke and must be extra careful when out in the sun.)” she says. “The science behind it. then went a long way.” Look for clothing with a UV protection factor (UPF) of at least 30; that will help prevent some of the sun’s rays from penetrating the fabric. UPF 50 blocks 98% of the sun’s rays, significantly reducing the risk of sun damage and skin diseases.
Start your day with plenty of water. If you’re thirsty — and especially if you’re dehydrated — “you won’t be able to sweat as much as you can,” which means you won’t cool down as effectively, Massey says. Take care to stay hydrated, and if you’ve been exercising outdoors, drink more of the sweat you’ve lost and a little more, she advises.
Electrolyte-fortified drinks can be helpful in cooling off, says Bontreger, as electrolytes help prevent heat-related cramps. Plus, she adds, alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you, so it’s best to steer clear of those on hot days.
Be smart about the facts. In general, avoid scheduling or participating in outdoor gatherings between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., unless there’s plenty of shade, says Wendell Porter, professor emeritus of agricultural and biological engineering at the University Florida said. Otherwise, “Someone’s going to be in trouble,” and it’s never fun when festivals dissolve into emergencies. Even playing a game on the lawn like cornhole can increase a vulnerable person’s metabolic rate, making them more susceptible to heat, so it’s best to be extra cautious, says Porter. when it’s very hot outside.
If you feel sick, get out in the sun. Find a shady spot or head in the house if you start to experience symptoms like heat cramps, headaches, or heavy sweating, says Lipman. It may take an hour or so until you get back to your baseline. And if you suspect heatstroke — including symptoms like nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse, fainting, confusion, or seizures — call 911 immediately.
The most effective ways to cool down quickly
Some cooling methods work better than others. Here’s what the experts suggest when you’re hot and can’t rely on air conditioning:
Spray water on people. In the Harsh Environment Lab, which studies the best ways to improve comfort, performance, and survivability in extreme conditions, Massey learned to spray yourself with cool tap water and then Fanning yourself (with your hand or a piece of paper, or by standing in front of the fan) is a particularly effective way to promote cooling. “It simulates the process of sweating on the skin, then evaporating and cooling the skin by convection,” she said. This strategy may also work well for people without air conditioning.
While water works well, Massey recommends skipping menthol-based cooling sprays, Packaged as a spray sunscreen and designed to give skin a cooling sensation. These sprays can make your skin cooler, she says, but they don’t lead to deep body cooling — and that could put you in jeopardy, if you believe that. I have cooled down but really not. In that case, you can continue to work or exercise outside, but because your body hasn’t cooled down, you’re at a higher risk of heat illness.
Soak feet. The limbs are “an amazing heat sink, especially when we have elevated body temperatures,” says Massey. Usually, kids like to go to the toilet to wash their hands with cold water — and they have the right opinion. Even reasonably cool water will do the trick, she notes; it doesn’t have to be as cold as ice.
Wipe your clothes with water. It’s not always practical, but if you find it claustrophobic, find a way to moisten your clothes, Lipman suggests. One way to do it: run through the fountain, like you did as a kid.
Keep a reserve of ice in the freezer. “Ice works: you can put one on your cheek, hand or foot,” says Massey. But there are downsides to consider. In addition to advanced planning — so you always have one when and where you need it — ice packs eventually melt, so there’s a stamp of their usefulness. (It’s best not to place the ice pack directly on the skin; keep a thin layer of fabric, such as a shirt or rag, in between to avoid injuring the skin.)
Some people invest in ice jackets, which are usually made of cooling fabric with extra rocks inserted. If you don’t find them too heavy and uncomfortable, they can be helpful. Craig Crandall, director of the Vascular and Thermal Physiology Laboratory at the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine, knows one burn survivor who wears one for outdoor activities. “She’ll be playing soccer with these cooling tops to help keep her cool and it works,” he said.
If someone shows signs of heatstroke, soak their body in cold water. This is considered gold standard Lipman says to cool people with heat illness quickly. Lower the person into the water (be it a bathtub, baby pool, or lake) to their armpits for about 10 minutes. “The colder the better – even if someone starts to shiver, cold water creates a temperature gradient and allows them to heat up more quickly,” he says.
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Enjoy the cool indoor air. Even on a hot day, Wendell says, there will be periods of relative coolness — usually between 3 and 7 a.m. Try to get as much of that cool air into your home as possible by leaving windows open and blinds open. “Then, as soon as the sun rises, close your house,” he said. Consider investing in blackout curtains, which will reduce the amount of heat transferred inside through your windows.
In homes without AC, Wendell also recommends taking a cold shower before bed, covering your head with a cool towel, and if possible, staying with friends or family members when it’s uncomfortably hot. Fans can be useful, but for the sake of saving electricity, always turn them off when you leave the room. “A fan only cools friend,” he said. “It evaporates the moisture on your skin, but it doesn’t affect the room.”
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