Staying cool when it’s hot

August 30, 2011

Vince Nathan, Ph.D.

Knowing how to reduce your exposure to heat is important as we continue experiencing record temperatures in Texas. Electric fans may provide comfort, but when temperatures are in the high 90s and beyond, fans alone do not prevent heat-related illness.

“Visit air conditioned buildings in your community like libraries, malls, senior centers or city-sponsored cooling centers if your home is not air conditioned,” says Vince Nathan, Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. “Even a few hours a day in air conditioning can greatly reduce the risk.”

In addition, don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, and avoid beverages containing caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar as these cause dehydration, Dr. Nathan says. Taking cool showers or baths and wearing lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing can help, too.

Dr. Nathan also recommends checking with your doctor to see if the medications you’re taking could increase your susceptibility to heat-related illness.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell