You can't handle the heat

  • Published
  • By Robert Kaschak

We are mid-summer and enduring some record setting temperatures. While we know the heat will be a factor this time of year, we are never really prepared to deal with all the issues that the triple digit temperatures bring to us. Life still goes regardless of the weather, but for many with severe consequences.  If you have a job which requires you to be outside, coping with the heat can be a huge challenge. Adjustments are necessary but not always well received or planned. Simple things like ensuring A/C units are serviced prior to the season fall by the wayside because there are more pressing things to accomplish. Southern Californians live a fast-paced lifestyle with days full of "requirements" and places to be without much thought for how the heat may affect those plans. Add to this personal physical conditions, diet and just a general lack of preparation and you now have the formula for heat related sickness.  There are many little things we can do to better acclimate to the summer and the heat that will surely plague us over the next few months. If you are taking the time to read this article, please note some of the easy tips you can inculcate into your life without a major upheaval. There is a plethora of information on the internet, television, radio, community planning centers and social media on ways to combat the heat. I have incorporated below some of the recommendations from the CDC .gov website on extreme heat.


 Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. This should intuitive at this time of year. Loose and layers has always been the safe way to dress and common sense should rule.

If you can stay in air conditioning, that will obviously keep your body cooler. There are "cool centers" everywhere. You can research on line or just watch the news. Malls and libraries are always a safe bet.

Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.  On this note, eat lighter. Salads and cold cuts are a good way to go. Heavy meals increase the heat in your body.

If you can, schedule your outdoor activity to when it's coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover. If you are one of those diehard "athletes" prep yourself. Think sunscreen, and hydration, and, again, use common sense. Modify your routines during the heat, and, if you are not acclimated to exercising in a hot environment, pace yourself. STOP and get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

Wearing sunscreen affects your body's ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. *Tip: Look for sunscreens that say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels- these products work best. There is some new information on certain chemicals in sunscreen that could be harmful. Do a little homework before you purchase.

Do Not Leave Children or pets in cars even if the windows are cracked open. Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. Research shows temps can rise as much as 30 degrees in 30 minutes inside a vehicle.  Remember to check the car when you get out to ensure that no one is left behind.  To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.

Cannot stress enough about hydration. If you have a medical condition, check with your doctor on fluid intake. Sports drinks can replace the minerals and salt you lose from heavy sweating. Do not forget to keep your pets hydrated as well.

It is paramount to monitor those at high risk: Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:

* Infants and young children

* People 65 years of age or older

* People who are overweight

* People who overexert during work or exercise *People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation Last bit of advice, become informed. Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them. You will be better be able to help someone in need.


So, the title of this article is a bit of a play on words from the movie "A few good men", a famous quote from actor Jack Nicholson. I believe if you can incorporate the measures listed above, you will definitely be able to the handle and heat, and, more importantly, enjoy a safe and happy quality of life in our sunny Southern California expanse. Summer is far from over. Make it a memorable one for and those you care about.