With temperatures already heading into the mid-90s, The Fort Collins area is heating up fast—with even toastier temperatures on the way in July and August. If you’re going to enjoy all the natural wonders, make it to all the breweries, and survive those scorching days without a sign of a dehydration or overheating, you’ll need to learn how to chill—more specifically, how to keep your body temperature low and keep your body hydrated.
In this blog, the Fort Collins pharmacists and holistic health experts at Good Day Pharmacy will give you some tips for staying cool this summer—which just might be one of the hottest summers on record.
Drink plenty of water.
Didn’t your mom teach you anything? Drinking water during hot weather is the best way to avoid health complications like heat exhaustion and dehydration, and a great way to stay energized and healthy, no matter how hot it is outside! Take heed of Boy Scout methods, and pack way too much water for your summer adventures. Wouldn’t you rather have too much water than not enough?
Take breaks during strenuous outdoor exercise.
If you’re taking a hike on Horsetooth Rock or swimming at Lory State Park, you’re going to get some strenuous exercise and expose yourself to high temperatures and intense sunlight. To avoid symptoms of heat exhaustion and stroke (we’ll touch on this later), be sure to take some breaks and get some shade to cool off for awhile. Intense, prolonged activity in the heat without a break can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseated, and dehydrated—taking breaks will help you avoid these symptoms so you can spend more time outside and have more fun on your summer adventures.
This healthy strategy goes for all people in your group. Even if you’re not feeling tired or overheated, keep a close eye on your peers, and take a break if you notice they’re looking winded or hot.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion and stroke.
Heat exhaustion and stroke are very serious conditions, and should not be taken lightly. Know the symptoms and consequences of these conditions so you can treat them as the occur, or avoid them altogether.
Heat exhaustion goes hand in hand with dehydration, and can cause a number of serious symptoms like excessive thirst, headaches, severe fatigue, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and dizziness. To treat someone showing signs of heat exhaustion, make them drink plenty of cold water, have them remove any restrictive or tight clothing, and have them take a cool (not ice-cold) shower or bath to lower their internal body temperature. If you’re unable to move indoors, find a cool, shady place and apply a cool towel or t-shirt to the forehead, neck, and wrists.
It’s important to act fast if you or someone else is experiencing signs of heat exhaustion—otherwise, there’s a dramatically increased risk for heat stroke.
Heat stroke is an incredibly severe condition—one that can be fatal in certain circumstances. Heat stroke occurs when your body’s internal temperature rises above 104 degrees, which causes extreme heat exhaustion symptoms, and even damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.
Heat stroke is almost always a result of untreated heat exhaustion—to avoid this debilitating and potentially fatal condition, treat symptoms of heat exhaustion immediately, and cut your summertime adventures short to stay safe and cool.
Do not leave children or pets in hot cars.
The interior temperature of a vehicle during a heat wave can rise well over 120 degrees—a dangerously hot temperature, especially if you’ve left a child or pet in the vehicle. This is a perfect example of a “greenhouse effect”—when sunlight and heat pass through the windows of your car, that heat is trapped inside of your car with no way out, creating extreme temperatures. It’s like a pressure cooker, except you’d never leave your dog in a pressure cooker.
It’s NEVER okay to leave pets or kids inside hot cars—even with the AC running and plenty of water. The risk is just too great—especially with a growing population of crusaders willing to punch out car windows to save the poor folks being cooked inside. Keep your kids and your animals cool by bringing them inside your destination with you—or not bringing them along at all.
Have a plan for power outages.
When your power goes, so does that crisp, cool air from your air conditioner. Always have a plan to keep your home (and yourself) cool in the event of a power outage by lowering your blinds, keeping extra ice on hand, and having an escape plan for when your home gets too hot (like going to an afternoon movie at the theater, or hanging out at an indoor, air conditioned mall).
Many homes have backup generators that can keep the AC running during outages, and prepare your home for some of the worst power outage scenarios. Invest in one, and learn how to use it properly–there’s a risk for carbon monoxide poisoning if you don’t use your generator the right way.
Avoid booze and sugar.
We get it—why on earth would you avoid your two favorite things on the planet? Unfortunately, your favorite substances can compromise your health in hot weather by spiking your blood sugar and causing dehydration—not a great combo when the weather outside is nearing triple digits.
The more sugar you eat, the more urine your kidneys produce—and the more you urinate, the more dehydrated you’ll be. This can be dangerous for diabetics, let alone average Joes on a mid-day hike. Keep your sugar to a minimum on hot days, and drink plenty of water to offset dehydration.
As for the booze, the law of diminishing returns is in effect here. Having a ice-cold can of suds or a refreshing margarita will temporarily raise your body temperature, but eventually lower it without risk for dehydration—but when that turns into three or four beers or big tub of margarita mix, you’re on the fast-track to dehydration, headaches, and a bad buzz. While a little booze won’t hurt, keep your intake in check, especially when the temperatures rise, and offset that booze with a glass of water—on the rocks.