Phoenix 101: Staying Cool This Summer

Carly Behm | The PhoenixFollow The Phoenix's tips for staying healthy during the warm summer months.

Temperatures in Chicago are expected to reach the upper nineties and could feel hotter than usual this weekend. This isn’t the first time this has happened this year, and weather conditions have prompted excessive heat warnings on multiple occasions in the city this summer.

Excessive heat warnings are issued when temperatures feel at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two hours.

The rising temperatures can cause an increased risk of health issues. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the main health risks people can face during the summer, according to Loyola’s Wellness Center Director Joan Holden. They can cause fatigue, nausea, faintness and a weakened pulse, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Phoenix offers some tips from experts and Chicagoans to remain cool during the remainder of summer.

How can I enjoy the summer despite the excessive heat?

Stay hydrated. Your body loses water from sweating, and this can be worsened by the heat. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) recommends drinking more fluids throughout the day. People should avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks which can lead to further dehydration.

The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking two to three liters of water per day, but multiple factors, including heat and exercise, can influence how much is actually needed.

Holden said people should also plan their day and avoid going outside when temperatures are the hottest — usually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other ways to prevent overheating include wearing loose clothing and reducing outdoor exercise, according to the CDC.

Outdoor festivals such as Lollapalooza have free hydration stations for guests, and many allow guests to bring an empty water bottle to refill throughout the day. It’s imperative for attendees to monitor how they feel at all-day outdoor events and use medical booths if they feel faint or dehydrated.

My apartment doesn’t have air conditioning. What should I do?

Continue to drink water throughout the day and try to find a friend who has air conditioning.

The CDC recommends regularly checking in with friends and family who are at risk for heat-related illness, such as the elderly.

Senn High School student Josaline Golota, 16, offered her own solution for people without air conditioning in their homes.

“Make one. Literally,” the 16-year-old said. “Just fill an ice box … and put a fan in there and there you go.”

What can I do to prevent sunburn?

Sunscreen is a must. The CDC recommends a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and using it 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied as needed. SPF rates indicate the sunscreen’s effectiveness. The higher the SPF, the more protected a person is from harmful ultraviolet rays.

Hats, sunglasses and umbrellas can also help protect from the sun.

Minor sunburns can cause some pain, skin peeling and blisters, according to the CDC. However, repeated sun exposure can lead to more serious skin damage and cancer.

How can I keep my pet comfortable?

Your pets should also have plenty of water and shade.

Some Chicagoans, including Patrice Ryan-White, who lives a few miles south of Rogers Park, like taking their dogs to the beach for a swim in the lake, too.

“We are lucky that we live by the lake because if you’re just a mile and a half west you are baking,” the 58-year-old said.

It’s imperative to avoid leaving pets alone in the car. The same goes for people. Cars can reach high temperatures quickly during the summer, leaving folks at risk for heat stroke or death.

What are some other ways I can stay healthy?

Stay informed about the weather and educate yourself about heat-related illnesses — especially at summer events such as Lollapalooza, outdoor film events and other fairs and festivals.

“All of these problems are preventable,” Holden said. “If people are aware of what time the heat can impact you and how it can make you sick then they can avoid it.”

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