How to Beat the Heat in New England

New England is hot! And you don’t have to read the headlines (Summer swelter: Heat wave scorches from coast to coast; Heat Wave: Millions Face Blazing Temperatures, Thick Humidity; Warnings Issued as Heat Wave Roasts East Coast) to know it! Just step outside, unless the temperatures are higher that 87 degrees, that is. A heat advisory has been issued for New York City (this means that “a heat index of at least 105°F but less than 115°F for less than 3 hours per day and/or if nighttime low temperatures are above 80°F for 2 consecutive days” – from Wikipedia). The weather forecast calls for temperatures approaching the 90s all week in New Haven. Similar steaminess is forecast for Providence and Newport.

According to health commissioners all around New England, 87 degrees is the magic number. At this temperature, many people are at risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion – serious conditions whose symptoms can be as simple as nausea and dizziness.

Even if you suffer solely from heat ennui, take care to beat the heat. Here are some simple tips to keep cool:

    • Do not overexert yourself
    • Wear loose, comfortable, light-colored, light-weight clothing (cotton is good for its breathability)
    • Wear a hat and sunscreen
    • Stay in the shade or indoors
    • Give yourself a spritz: keep a spray bottle of water handy and spray yourself – as the water evaporates, it will cool you down, add an essential oil like lavender or rose and it will even make you smell good
    • Take off your shoes
    • Get some air circulation: open windows, use fans, turn on the air conditioning (if it gets really hot and you don’t have A/C, find a public place with it: the library, the movie theatre, the mall)
    • Read about snow – your mind can cool you down (Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow or Paul Nicklen’s Polar Obsession come to mind)
    • Turn the lights down (unless you are reading)
    • Try a cold compress – or just and ice cube – at the inside of your elbows and knees and at the back of your neck
    • Keep a cool head – stay calm, anger produces adrenalin, which causes your blood vessels to constrict and tighten which causes increased blood flow which causes your body to heat up

Most importantly: sweat. Sweating is the body’s greatest cooling mechanism. And proper hydration is essential for proper sweating. Drink a quart of fluids every hour. The CDC tells us “Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.” Read more here. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, both are known to exacerbate dehydration.

And check your pee! If you are properly hydrated, you should urinate a significant amount three to five times a day. Your urine should be pale yellow, or even clear.