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How to Stay Cool in the Heat

Tips from Cambridge Health Alliance emergency physician on how to stay safe in the summer sun

  With the summer temperatures climbing, heat can become dangerous. Here are some tips from Dr. Melisa Lai-Becker, chief of the CHA Everett Hospital Emergency Department, about how to stay cool when everything is hot.

  • If you don’t have to go outside, don’t. If you must go outside, limit your time outdoors and try to stay out of the sun.
  • If you go outside, use sun protection. Sunscreen and a hat will help protect you from the sun.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated. While water is the best option, Dr. Lai-Becker says that drinking anything is better than nothing. Try to avoid caffeine, sugary drinks and alcohol, but if you want a soft drink or an alcoholic beverage, she suggests drinking water with it in a 1:1 ratio.
  • Drink sports drinks or eat something with salt if you are worried about overhydrating in the heat. Crackers like saltines or tortilla chips will replenish salt reserves if you have had a lot of water.
  • Eat a light meal if you’re feeling faint or if you haven’t eaten very much because of the heat. Fruits like berries or watermelon will help you hydrate and fill your stomach.
  • Pay attention to the most vulnerable. Babies, children, pets and older people are far more sensitive to these conditions.
  • If you don’t have air-conditioning, make sure air is circulating. Open your windows and make sure air is coming in. Dr. Lai-Becker says, “Use a cool face cloth, take a shower, or use a fan – whether electric or handheld. These will help tremendously. Fans are good with a little spray mist.”
  • Take advantage of cool environments. If you have a paddling pool, you can use that for a short amount of time, or take kids to a spray park or the beach. Consider going to a library or a movie theater, either of which will be air-conditioned.
  • If you start to feel ill, go inside and try to cool off. If after trying any of these activities for approximately 30 minutes you are feeling nauseated, dizzy or exhausted, seek medical attention.

  Cambridge Health Alliance’s Emergency Departments in Cambridge and Everett are available 24/7 if you have medical issues.

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