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Heat Wave: 9 Quick Tips to Prevent Dehydration

This article is part two of a three part series on beating the heat this summer. Read part one of the series here, and remember that older adults, individuals with chronic conditions, and other vulnerable populations are more susceptible to heat related problems.

  1. First, foremost, and of the UTMOST importance, is the availability of water. Carry it with you everywhere and at all times. Keep a couple of gallon jugs of water in the trunk of your car in case you break down. Freeze a few 16 ounce water bottles, and when you're ready to go out for the day, take them with you. They'll melt faster than you think, and will keep your water cool for hours.
  2. Drink a lot of water. You can become dehydrated quickly in the summer due to perspiration. Remember: drink even when you are not thirsty. In fact, if you wait until you're thirsty, you've waited too long. Increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.
  3. Run cold water on the insides of your wrists and splash it on your neck. The relief is immediate, and this method will cool down the entire body—by as much as three degrees Fahrenheit—for almost an hour.
  4. Avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages, as well as alcoholic drinks and those high in sugar -- these cause you to lose more body fluids. Sports drinks can supplement fluids in your body, but water should be your first choice. While water is the best choice, it's not always the most mouth-watering. 100 percent fruit juices not only hydrate you but help you get your recommended dose of fruit servings as well. For a change of pace, mix juice, seltzer and fruit sorbet in the blender for a delicious smoothie.
  5. Fill buckets or basins with water and soak your feet.
  6. A spray bottle full of water kept close at hand can be a great way to get a bit of relief, particularly if there's some air movement.
  7. Ball up and soak a t-shirt in the sink, wring it out, put it on and sit in a lawn chair (or other chair that lets air through to you) in front of a fan. Re-wet as it dries. Make sure not to soak it with cold water. Instead use lukewarm water so you get cool without freezing.
  8. Install a dehumidifier in your home. A de-humidifier will not do much to cool down the air, but it can take the sticky humidity out of the air which will make it feel more comfortable.
  9. Fill your bathtub with cool water and get in. Once you are used to the temperature, let some water out and refill with cold water. Keep doing this until you are sufficiently cold. Your body will stay cool for a long time after you get out.

Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask the doctor how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

Check back here for August's article on how you can save money when cooling your home and read this NIH article to learn more about how to stay cool in the summer.(External Link)

Did You Know?

You can be a good neighbor by checking in on older residents in your neighborhood during heat waves. Sometimes it can be a matter of life or death!

There is help available. Contact your Local Office for the Aging for a list of cooling centers.