While Fall and its cooler temperatures are on the horizon, much of the U.S. is still experiencing the hottest temperatures they’ll see all year. With extreme heat, the risk for dehydration increases significantly, not to mention simple overheating. It is crucial for everyone to regulate their body temperatures during this period, but for those living with a disability, especially paralysis, it is even more critical.
With you in mind, here are a few tips on how you can stay cool as we wrap up summer, with hydration being the most important.
1. Stay Hydrated
If you do nothing else, stay hydrated. Water has many advantages; not only does drinking water help you cool down and regulate your body temperatures, but it also helps to replenish the water leaving your body through sweat. On average, adult males should consume around ten cups of water per day, while women should drink about eight cups to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is usually signified by dry mouth, thirst, headaches, and dizziness – and if it becomes a long-term issues, it can contribute to other health problems.
A couple tips on staying hydrated? Find a water-bottle you love and carry it with you at all times. Consider getting a cup-holder for your wheelchair if you don’t have one to carry your water. There are apps that help you track water intake, which can make it kind of like a game. There are even smart bottles that help track for you!
If you need a little flavor to drink more water, try adding some fruit, like lemon, orange or strawberry slices to your bottle. Or, check out some of these popular, all-natural flavorings that you can find at most grocery stores.
2. Pick the Right Clothing
Wear breathable material such as cotton because the fabric is known to allow better air circulation, which will help keep you cool because the air absorbs the moisture from your body’s sweat. The even make cooling clothing!!
3. Eat Lighter Meals
As most of us know, from our memories of Thanksgiving dinners, having large meals leave us feeling bloated, heavy and in a sort of ‘food coma.’ While that’s common during the holidays, having heavy meals in the summer is not advisable. This is because the high temperature already has your body working overtime to cool you down, adding the work of digesting a heavy meal will leave you with low energy levels. Save your body the extra work and stick to lighter meals. There are also specific foods that are said to cool the body, according to Chinese Medicine, including lettuce, celery, cucumbers and many types of fruit!
4. Try Some Fruit Ice Blocks
Treat yourself by trying out fruit ice blocks. Blueberries and raspberries in diluted apple juice is one of the mixtures you could try out. It’s like making homemade popsicles! If you make them in ice trays, you can add them to your water, too!
5. Get Wet
Taking multiple cold showers or baths during the day not only helps to relieve the heat and humidity of the summer temporarily, but it leaves you feeling clean and fresh instead of fatigued. Or, take a dip in a pool or lake – whatever you have available! If submersing yourself in water isn’t doable, try laying some wet rags around your main arteries, like your neck, underarms and thighs. You could also soak your feet or hands in cold water.
6. Protect Yourself From the Sun
Prolonged sun exposure can cause health problems like heat strokes. Avoid staying too long in the sun, and when exposed to sunlight, use sunscreen or cover yourself with clothing to protect your skin from sunburns and prevent overheating. Bring a hat, and don’t forget to protect your eyes with some shades!
7. Cool Your Home
There are a lot of ways to make sure your home is cool. Try placing a tray or a bowl of ice in front of the fan in a room. As the ice melts, cool air is spread throughout the room, in the end, leaving you with a nicely chilled space. It’s also helpful to let cool air in at night through windows and close them when the sun comes up.
8. Stay Informed
Make sure you stay updated on weather forecasts; especially the temperature. Knowing the expected weather changes makes it possible for you to plan your activities. Being prepared for extreme heat is the best way to protect yourself.
9. Listen to Your Body
This is one of the most important things to remember. It is vital to listen to what your body is saying. If you feel unwell, have a headache or a fast pulse, it could be signs of heat exhaustion which if not checked, can lead to heatstroke. If you have these symptoms, move to a cool place, have try to relax and consume plenty of fluids.