Chill Out, Cullowhee

Summer months – some people get excited about outdoor cookouts and summer sports and some dread the instant sunburn and constant sweating that comes with all the fun. So, as drinking more water is a given, how do we beat the heat? First, it’s probably best for you to get to know some heat-related terms. According to the American Red Cross: Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells you how hot it really feels when the relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees. Heat Exhaustion: this usually occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal. Heat Stroke: This is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. A heat stroke is also sometimes called a sunstroke. Symptoms of Heat Stroke: Hot, red skin, changes in consciousness, rapid, weak pulse, and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high (as high as 105 degrees F). If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry. The usual care system for heat emergencies is: cool the body, give it fluids, and minimize shock. If you or a friend experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, seek a cool place to rest. The person should drink a half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes – you shouldn’t drink too fast when you are suffering from symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Cool, wet cloths or towels should be applied to the body and tight clothing should be loosened or removed. In the case of heat stroke, cold packs should be applied to the victim’s wrists, ankles, neck, and armpits. Call 911 immediately as heat stroke is life-threatening. So, now you know what all the hot talk is about… but you’re still burning up! As many times as you’ve probably heard it before, drink a lot of water! Becoming dehydrated is the last thing you want when you’re trying to have fun in the summer. Drink plenty of fluids even when you’re not thirsty to prevent dehydration. Water is the best to drink in the heat, but electrolyte sports drinks like Gatorade will hydrate you as well. Avoid caffeine or alcohol, especially beer, as it will dehydrate the body. While you’re keeping up your fluid intake, you need to make sure you’re eating well, too. Small, frequent meals are best for you, but avoid foods that are high in protein because they increase metabolic heat. Though it may be tempting to take an ice-cold shower after a hot day in the sun, resist temptation! Taking a suddenly chilly shower will reduce blood flow to the skin’s surface and confuse the body’s attempt to conserve heat by shutting down sweat production. Try a somewhat cool shower that doesn’t leave you shivering as an alternative. There’s an old saying: “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” The peak hours of heat and potential of heat-related illnesses are between 10a.m.-4p.m. The rays are the most intense during these hours. If you’re an avid runner, either toss those covers off early around 7a.m. (the best time for strenuous activity) or wait until it gets a little dark. Then of course, there is always the treadmill in the air-conditioned fitness center. Always apply sunscreen, even on cloudy days, because 80% of the sun’s rays can break through the clouds. Use at least SPF15 thick sunblock on the body, face, and lips and reapply every couple of hours. If you’re out at an outdoor pool or a lake, remember that reflective surfaces like water, sand, and concrete can reflect 85% of sun rays. It’s best to wear light-colored, lightweight clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from the damaging rays, which can cause cancer. And finally, as a creative and cheaper alternative to buying the C-store out of Dippin’ Dots, you can make your own treats to chill out with. Jell-O pops are really cheap and easy to make. You just mix a cup of boiling water with the gelatin mix, and then add one to two cups of cold water, depending on how many you want to make. Pour the mix into little cups and freeze. Also, frozen fruit is a really healthy and tasty snack. Just wash the fruit and place on wax paper (the liners from boxed cereal work fine, too) and freeze. You can even make fruit kabobs and stick them on bamboo skewers before you freeze them.