The signs of summer are appearing here in San Luis Obispo. The students have left for the season, the tourists have arrived, the hills are a crispy golden brown, and residents are escaping to the ocean whenever they can find a free moment. As the thermometer rises, it is important to remain healthy and comfortable by reducing overall body temperature, conserving energy, and recognizing the symptoms of heat stroke. Here are a few hints for the sweaty masses out there to help with staying cool as a cucumber.
1. Dress appropriately – This is no time to break out your velour track suit, no matter how fly it may make you look. Wearing light fabrics, such as organic cotton and bamboo, helps to keep air flowing around your body as well as wick away sweat and discourage the growth of bacteria. Avoid darker colors and materials that trap warm air close to your figure.
2. Stay hydrated – Sure, an iced coffee sounds like a fantastic idea, but remember to drink plenty of water after that cup of joe. Caffeine is a diuretic, and will prompt your body to let go of precious moisture. Keep a good canteen of H20 with you at your desk, on walks, and especially during physical activity. If you have been sweating a lot, grab a drink that contains electrolytes, such as sports drinks, fruit juices, coconut water, or smoothie.
3. Adjust your routine – If you are going to meander through the hills or go for a run on your daily exercise routine, consider going during dawn or dusk when the sun is lowest and breezes are more likely to be present. If you have to be out when the sun is the most intense, carry a lot of fluids and drink constantly. Find shade whenever possible, and move slowly.
4. Recognize the signs of heat stroke – No matter how careful you may try to be, there is always a possibility that your body temperature can reach a dangerous 104 degrees and cause serious damage to your system. Symptoms of heat stroke include heat cramps, lack of sweating, flushing, exhaustion, dizziness, chills, nausea, racing heart rate, and confusion. In order to avoid harming your internal organs, find shade or a cool place, and remove excess clothing. Place ice packs or water on the head, neck, armpits and groin. Drink water, and if the condition is truly serious, seek immediate help from a doctor.
5. Cool treats – Thank heavens for modern refrigeration technology! Have a good time keeping your core temperature down by exploring the wide world of frozen treats such as iced cream, sorbet, popsicles, and iced drinks. Take advantage of the amazing fruit selection at your local farmers market and create your own goodies at home by either blending a smoothie, making juiced ice cubes, or simply snacking on iced pieces.
6. A/C and fans – While AC is a nice luxury to have, there are a lot of business and homes in SLO that remain without units or cannot afford the energy bill. Good insulation goes a long way to maintaining a constant temperature, and double paned glass can not only keep structures warm in the winter, but comfortable in the summer. Vegetation and shade trees around the home retain moisture and drop the temperature as well as provide a replacement to asphalt. Fans circulate air and keep interiors from becoming stagnant. Open doors and windows in the evening to let in a good breeze.
7. Take a dip – For a little relief, make your way to the pool, dunk your head in the frigid Pacific ocean, or run through some sprinklers. A cold shower is a fantastic way to wash away sweat and quickly lower body temperature. Be careful of creeks and rivers that are slow or stagnant, as they are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and pests. Heed beach warnings for contaminated water as exposure could cause infection, sickness, and more problems than just a sweaty body.