Beat the Heat

I came across an article from James Woods of CNN that addressed the issue of summer being hot.  I kept waiting for some real news but nope, the report was simply stating that summer is hot.  I thought, is this some new revelation to these folks at CNN?  If so, I can’t wait for the follow up story in six months stating that winter is cold.

I had to laugh when I saw this Batman cartoon.

I guess this really speaks to the fact that more and more people are losing touch with reality.  Milk comes from the grocery store, not real cows. It's not possible to communicate with others without the use of an electronic device.  And the weather never really changes cause it's always comfortable indoors.  News flash - if you go outside once in a while, you’ll notice the weather actually changes.

This is really concerning to me because the world around us is in the process of changing, and not for the better.  It will become more and more important for individuals to learn how to be self-reliant through actually dealing with real-world scenarios.

I know individuals who have no idea how to even check the oil level in their vehicles and others who would starve if they had to bake a loaf of bread.  There are those who throw things away just because they don’t know how to fix them when a simple turn of a screw or a new battery would make the item work like new.  Unfortunately, we’re turning into a pathetic, pampered, totally dependent group of people that will be the first to die when things get tough.

So, how do I really feel – discouraged and sad.  Mostly sad because there will be so much unnecessary suffering.  Not that hard times won’t affect us all, but those who spend just a little more time developing their survival skills rather than numbing their minds with countless hours of social media, computer games and Netflix, will have a much greater chance of not only surviving difficult times, but thriving.

Now back to the CNN article – yes, heat can be a real problem, especially for the elderly and those who have life threatening medical conditions.  Humidity is another potentially dangerous factor that can totally sap your energy and make it almost impossible to function outdoors.

I live in a dry, arid climate where temperatures of 90 or 100 degrees don’t create any real hazards or concerns.  But if one were to add 80% or 90% humidity to those temperatures, being outdoors could be very challenging if not life threatening to those who are especially sensitive.  Take a look at this heat index to see how humidity affects temperature danger levels.

So if the grid goes down, what should we do?  How can we keep the temperatures down in our homes or how can we shield ourselves from the heat if we’re forced to spend most of the day outdoors?

In many states where humidity is high, it usually not only gets hot in the summer but really hot, and humid. Going outside is like entering a sauna. Many who live in these states work outside while others may work in large metal buildings with no air-conditioning.

Nevertheless, it’s surprising how few cases of hyperthermia are treated as a result.  A big reason is they work yearlong in these conditions. The seasons change gradually, and their bodies adapt. Even then, when it gets in the high nineties, their bodies need help. The smart ones have learned the tricks on how to survive the heat.

How You Adapt to the Heat: Sweat, Blood and Oxygen

Our bodies adapt to the heat in several ways:

●   We sweat more. Sweat evaporating from skin is a great cooling mechanism. To survive the heat our bodies double their sweat production and start sweating at a lower temperature.

●   Our sweat starts containing less salt, so there’s less depletion.

●   Our heart becomes more efficient, pumping more blood per beat. That blood circulates from our core to our skin surface for cooling.

●   Our cells use oxygen more efficiently. Our metabolism slows, and so does the heat it produces.

These body adaptations are called heat acclimatization, and it takes a week or two.  So a sudden heat wave can catch our bodies by surprise. Enter the tricks on how to survive.

How to Survive the Heat If You’re Not Adapted

If you work outside:

1)   Drink a couple glasses of water, juice, or sports drinks per hour because dehydration makes hyperthermia worse. Heavy laborers need as much as a quart or two per hour. It doesn’t have to be ice cold. In fact, that can cause stomach spasms. If it’s water only, add a teaspoon of salt to the first couple of quarts per day. Limit your caffeine, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as they actually dehydrate you worse. And caveat: If your doctor has suggested limiting your amount of fluids or salt, get his or her advice on what to do.

2)   Do the heavy work before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

3)   Take frequent breaks in the shade. Fan a little.

4)   Wear loose, breathable clothes.

5)   If you’re going to be in the sun a lot, don’t forget frequent suntan lotion, and consider a wide-brim hat.

If you’re inside with no air-conditioning:

1)   Open windows and use a fan. Good air ventilation is essential.

2)   But remember, when the heat gets in the high nineties, fans may make you feel more comfortable but cannot cool off your body temperature. Also, a high humidity can make it difficult for the sweat to evaporate. This can be especially dangerous for people whose bodies don’t adapt as well anyway, like elderly people, kids younger than four, and people with a chronic illness or who are being physically active.

3)   What does work is a cool midday shower, bath, or sponging.

4)   It’d be great if you could visit an air-conditioned facility (mall, senior center, adult day-care) during the hottest part of the day.

5)   Check on your at-risk family, friends, neighbors twice a day. Make sure they’re drinking fluids and look okay.

Know the warning signs

Heat stroke victims usually don't recognize their own symptoms. Their survival therefore depends on their co-workers, family or friend’s abilities to detect symptoms and seek first aid and medical help immediately. While the symptoms vary from person to person, they include dry, hot skin (due to failure to sweat) or profuse sweating, a very high body temperature (often exceeding 105 F), hallucinations, confusion, seizures and complete or partial loss of consciousness.

Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, thirst, nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, and elevated body temperature. Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke.