Tips to help you keep cool during Metro Detroit heat wave

Extended stretch of hot, steamy weather approaching

This May 12, 2020, photo shows a general view of the Renaissance Center, headquarters for General Motors, along the Detroit skyline from the Detroit River. A federal judge in Detroit dismissed General Motors lawsuit Wednesday, July 8, 2020, alleging that rival Fiat Chrysler paid off union leaders to get better contract terms than GM. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
This May 12, 2020, photo shows a general view of the Renaissance Center, headquarters for General Motors, along the Detroit skyline from the Detroit River. A federal judge in Detroit dismissed General Motors lawsuit Wednesday, July 8, 2020, alleging that rival Fiat Chrysler paid off union leaders to get better contract terms than GM. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – Get set to sweat, as we are facing an extended stretch of hot, steamy weather. It will be very uncomfortable at times, and even dangerous to some.

But before you scoff at how dangerous heat waves are, consider this: excessive heat is America’s number one weather killer. That’s right, extreme heat kills more people on average than tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and lightning … with an average of 138 people per year dying over the 29-year period from 1990 to 2019.

Even if you don’t consider yourself endangered by the heat, at the very minimum you don’t want to be uncomfortable. So here are some simple things you can do to beat the heat:

· Close your drapes and blinds during the daytime hours. Just keeping the sun from shining through the windows helps a lot. It’s like moving the inside of your house into the shade. And if the nights cool off enough, open the windows and let that cooler air into the house, before closing the windows again when you wake up to keep that rapidly warming air out.

· If you have air conditioning, make sure that your furnace filter is clean. A clean filter means that your furnace’s motor more efficiently pushes that cooler air throughout your house.

· Heat stresses us, especially the very young, very old, and those in poor health. Know your limits. If you don’t have air conditioning, it’s important to relieve that heat stress. Perhaps spend some time at an air-conditioned mall, or a friend/relative’s house. If nothing else, a cool shower or bath certainly can help cool you off. Just find a way to interrupt the heat’s stress and give your body some recovery time. Most heat-related health issues result from extended periods of heat stress.

· Stay hydrated, and make sure that you’re hydrating with water and sports drinks. This is critical, because we sweat more when it’s hot, and this draws a lot of fluids out of our bodies. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, because they dehydrate you -- the exact opposite of what you want during a heat wave.

· Wear cotton or linen clothing, as these natural fibers absorb sweat and allow your skin to breathe. Synthetic material, like polyester and rayon, don’t breathe, and trap sweat on your skin, which makes you more uncomfortable.

· This one may surprise you, and it comes from my colleagues at the BBC in London. You probably already know that, if you’ll be out in the hot sun, you should wear light colored clothing (preferably white). This helps reflect solar radiation and keeps you cooler than dark colored clothing. However, if you’ll be inside, or in solid shade, loose-fitting dark clothing are actually better because it absorbs heat from your body and radiates that heat out into the environment around you, especially if there’s a light breeze. Yes, indoors or in the shade, dark clothing helps keep you cooler!

· If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pets. Please make sure they have relief from the heat, and a dependable supply of clean, cool water to drink.

Read: Metro Detroit weather: Humid with storm chances Sunday

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About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.