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Summertime is here: How to be ready for the heat

Dressed in a floppy hat, sunglasses with a Velcro strap that wraps around her head to keep them in place, a UVP bathing suit with sleeves to maximize coverage, and plenty of SPF 45 sunscreen, 15-month-old Aubrey Dourte is geared up and ready for maximum safe playtime at the beach with her family Friday afternoon. 

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Dressed in a floppy hat, sunglasses with a Velcro strap that wraps around her head to keep them in place, a UVP bathing suit with sleeves to maximize coverage, and plenty of SPF 45 sunscreen, 15-month-old Aubrey Dourte is geared up and ready for maximum safe playtime at the beach with her family Friday afternoon. 

You see the forecast for this week? Highs every day around 90. Overnight lows above 70. Soggy dew points. Sticky humidity. Summer is here. And we probably won't see the cool, soothing temperatures like we had last week until at least October, maybe even November. That's at least five months of heat. For all of those awesome winter months when we can hardy-har at Northerners who are shivering in their long johns, this is the price we pay. Here are some ways to weather the summer — not only to keep cool, but to stay safe.

Kids and cars

During the summer, temperatures inside a car can reach 120 degrees within 10 minutes. Certainly, don't leave kids or pets in a car, even with the windows open. And parents and caregivers should build in a mental reminder to ensure they remember their toddler is strapped in. One idea is to leave a purse or briefcase — an item one brings along by habit — in the back seat with the child. Believe it or not, good people sometimes forget, and that can lead to tragedy. Estimates vary, but federal agencies and safety groups suggest at least 30 children die each year from heatstroke in cars. When cars are parked at home, they should be locked to ensure little ones don't open a door, climb inside and get stuck.

Recognize heat stress

Heat exhaustion can occur when temperatures reach 90. If not treated right away, it can lead to heatstroke and death. If you or a loved one start feeling dizzy, weak, uncoordinated and nauseated while you're out in the heat, it's time to take action. Get to a cool place out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids, but not anything with alcohol or caffeine. Wash off with cool water if possible and get medical care if the condition persists.

Mornings and evenings

Like to take a 5-mile run? Or work in the garden? Or mow the lawn? Then do it in the early morning or the late evening. If you must be active in the heat, remember to drink a lot of water or juice and take frequent breaks. If you're active in hot weather, you'll need to drink up to 4 quarts of fluids a day to stay hydrated. Wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothes. Natural fabrics like cotton are best. A hat is a good idea, too.

Don't forget the sunscreen

Use at least a shot glass full of sunscreen for the average adult body, taking care to cover the hairline, ears and tops of the feet. SPF ratings apply only to UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and do not address UVA rays, which trigger deeper skin damage. Look for these ingredients for UVA protection: avobenzone, zinc oxide or the slightly less effective titanium dioxide. High numbers don't mean everything: An SPF of 30 blocks about 98 percent of UVB rays, while an SPF of 100 guards against 99 percent of them. Reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, more often if you sweat or go in the water. Don't be misled by "waterproof'' products.

Sources: Washington Post, Emax Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Women's Fitness, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Safety Council; photos by iStockphoto

Summertime is here: How to be ready for the heat 05/22/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 22, 2011 6:17pm]
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