DETROIT – A heat wave reached Metro Detroit last week, and the humidity has followed.
Get set to sweat, as we are facing an extended stretch of increasingly hot weather. It will be uncomfortable at times, and even dangerous to some.
But there are some simple things you can do to beat the heat -- here are some tips:
- Keep the sunlight out: 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.
- Check your furnace: 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.
- Know your limits: 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 or relative’s house. If nothing else, a cool shower or bath can certainly help cool you off. Just find a way to interrupt the heat’s stress and give yourself some recovery time. Most heat-related health issues result from extended periods of heat stress.
- Water, water, water: Stay hydrated! Make sure that you’re hydrating with water and sports drinks -- and not just when you’re feeling thirsty. Be sure to drink more water than usual throughout the day. 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.
- Choose breathable fabrics: 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 they trap sweat on your skin, which makes you more uncomfortable.
- When to wear light or dark colored fabrics: 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 actually is 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. So yes, indoors or in the shade, dark clothing actually helps keep you cooler!
- Look after your pets: 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.