Tips to Beat the Heat
||Dr. Reynold Trowers
The hot and hazy days of summer are upon us. While it’s a great time for outdoor activities and backyard grills, too much heat can be harmful. Dr. Reynold Trowers, Director of the Emergency Department at Harlem Hospital Center, offers these 10 tips to beat the heat.
- If possible, stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head.
- Use an air conditioner if you have one. Set the thermostat no lower than 78 degrees. If you do not have an air conditioner, keep rooms well-ventilated with open windows and fans.
- Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, young children, and people with special needs. Many older New Yorkers live alone and could suffer unnecessarily in the heat because they are isolated from friends and family.
- Drink fluids – particularly water – even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
- Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
- Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours – 11 AM to 4 PM. If you must engage in strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 AM and 7 AM.
- Cool showers or baths may be helpful, but avoid extreme temperature changes. Never take a shower immediately after becoming overheated – extreme temperature changes may make you ill, nauseated, or dizzy.
- Patients with respiratory illnesses have to be particularly careful during high heat conditions. Make sure that you carry your medications with you at all times. If you have been prescribed respiratory inhalers, make sure that you know which inhaler is your "fast acting" or "rescue" inhaler. If you develop respiratory distress, use the "fast acting" inhaler first.
- During heat emergencies, the City may open cooling centers. If cooling centers are open, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115) or locate a center online. Also consider going to a public pool, air-conditioned store, mall or movie theater to stay cool.