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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heat Wave Health Tips: Stay Cool, Bronxites

File photo by Adi Talwar
Weather.com says the thermometer is going to hit a stifling 95 degrees today. As we mentioned in this morning's news roundup, you can get some relief from the heat by stopping in at one of the city's air-conditioned cooling centers.You can find the location closest to you by calling 311 or using this online map feature.

In the meantime, the folks over at St. Barnabas Hospital wanted to remind everyone, especially the elderly and those with young children and infants, to be wary of the health dangers that can come with very hot weather.

Dr. Ernest Patti, the hospital's Senior Attending Physician of Emergency Medicine, offers these tips for how to stay cool--and avoid health problems like heat exhaustion and heat stroke--until this sweltering weather breaks:
  • Drinks lots of cool water even when you’re not feeling thirsty. You can dilute water with a 50-50 mix of natural fruit juices if you desire a change. Avoid alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks (especially in children), coffee, cola, and caffeine drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic which can lead to dehydration.
  • Stay out of the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and try to go out early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.
  • Wear a hat and loose fitting, comfortable clothes of materials like cotton, linen, and silk. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they retain heat and may make you more uncomfortable.
  • Take advantage of air conditioning or cool places like shopping malls, libraries, movie theatres, etc.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes down and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house, but keep windows slightly open to allow for ventilation.
  • Keep electric lights off or turned down low, turn off all unnecessary electrical appliances especially computers and TV’s which generate a lot of heat.
  • Avoid heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense activities outdoors.
  • Never leave a child or pets for any time in a parked car or in direct sunlight even with the motor running.
  • Be aware that certain medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature and/or may make it easier for your skin to burn. This includes both common prescription and over the counter drugs. That’s why it’s important to consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding side effects of any medication you’re taking.
  • Use a fan in the house near the window to bring in the cooler air from the outside. And don’t use a fan in a closed room without windows or doors open to the outside.

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