• Sara Thompson

How to Beat the Heat



By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise


Temperatures are heating up and our bodies are susceptible to getting too hot. As we experience the heat our core temperature will rise and has the potential to do some serious damage to our internal organs. Humans are one of the most adaptable creatures on the planet. We have been able to adapt to many of the extreme environments the world has and dealing with the heat is no exception. With summer around the corner there are many ways our bodies naturally help with staying cool, but there are several ways we can also help ourselves to avoid getting too hot.


One of the first ways our body try to cool itself down is to push blood closer to the surface of our skin to help dissipate heat. The next is sweating. As we heat up from temperature or exercise the pores on our skin will excrete small amounts of water. You may want to wipe the sweat off, but it works better if you leave it on your skin. It is the evaporation of the water off our skin that helps to cool us down, wiping it off will disrupt this process. Since our bodies use water in sweat, it is very important to also hydrate. Drinking water will help our bodies replenish the water lost. While any water is better than no water, cool water can feel more refreshing on hot days and prompts you to drink more. For days where you sweat a lot, you may also need to replace electrolytes that are also excreted during sweating. There are drinks designed with electrolytes in them, or water additives. These types of drinks can help but should be used in moderation.


While being outdoors there are other steps we can take to keep cool other than sweating and hydrating. Wearing the appropriate clothing can also help you beat the heat. Loose and lightweight clothes help with air circulation and allow your skin to breathe. Wearing a hat can also help keep the sun off your head and face, keeping them cool as well. When outdoors, finding shade for a rest can help. Shade can be 10-15 degrees cooler than the surrounding air. Seeking green space can help too. Asphalt is often much hotter than the surrounding air temperature as it absorbs the heat. While plants absorb the moisture from the ground, they pass it to the air as a type of natural air conditioning. Bodies of water can also help us with staying cool. Not only does the cool water help our bodies stay cool and help with evaporation, wind passing over a body of water cools it down making it feel cooler as it passes over the shore.


There are many ways to try to beat the heat this summer. Having water always available is the most important to staying hydrated. But also taking frequent breaks in the shade while outdoors will also help keep your internal temperatures from reaching dangerous levels. When it is hot, remember that longer rests are better to help bring your temperature down and to not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.


 

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