How to Prepare to Stay Healthy in the Heat

The summer is upon us, and that means one big thing: heat. If you look at history, it seems as though the seasons are getting more extreme—well, really that summer's getting hotter and hotter. Read on to find out the steps you can take to insure that you're protecting yourself from the harmful heat this summer.

1. Keep yourself hydrated.

This is probably the most important tips of all to protecting yourself from heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up in the morning, and keep a bottle of water nearby all day so that you can consistently drink and keep yourself hydrated. And no—drinking soda, juice, or milk doesn't count. Water's the best fluid to drink if you're trying to stay hydrated.

2. Know heat stroke warning signs.

Unfortunately, heat stroke does occur—sometimes even if you're staying hydrated. Following are the warning signs that you might be experiencing a heat stroke:

  • Confusion
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of perspiration

3. Stay in an air-conditioned environment.

If at all possible, spend as much time as you can indoors—preferably in a place that's air conditioned. If you don't have air conditioning but want to get it, simply use a search engine to find a reputable air conditioning contractor in your area (for example, if you live in Louisville, you could search "Louisville air conditioning"). Otherwise, head to the local public library or mall to spend some time in the nice, cool air conditioning.

4. Dress for the heat.

Don't even think about putting on clothing that's heavy and dark-colored. To stay as cool as possible in the summer heat, you need to wear loose-fitting, breathable, light material such as cotton. And don't forget about your kids! Be sure to dress your children in loose, cool clothing and have them wear hats to keep the sun off their faces.

5. Protect your skin.

If you do end up spending time outdoors under the hot sun, don't forget to wear your sunscreen! It's recommended that you wear a sunblock with at least 30 SPF—preferably one that's waterproof and sweat-proof. Additionally, be sure that you reapply your sunscreen every few hours, as it can (and will) wear off, leaving you and your loved ones unprotected. (*Note: When you're applying sunscreen, don't forget to apply to the tops of your feet and tips of your ears! This spots are often overlooked, and they tend to get sunburned very easily.)

6. Be careful when you're active outdoors.

If at all possible, schedule outdoors activities earlier in the morning or later in the evening—particularly if they involve exercise or being physically active. These two times of day are sure to be the coolest, while midday is the warmest—and the time that you'll be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

By following these six steps, you can help to protect yourself from the heat and stay healthy during the summer.