Top tips to beat the heat

Aug 17, 2016, 13:52 PM by Dr. Patricia Beach, professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics


  • Wear lightweight clothing. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help sweat evaporate easily and keep you cooler in hot, humid climates. Look for shirts and pants with a tight weave and avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. Top it off with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB spectrum light.
  • Seek shade. Avoiding direct exposure to sun rays can prevent heat rash, heatstroke, sunburn and other heat-related illnesses. If you want to spend time outdoors but your patio or deck area is not covered, try using movable umbrellas or awnings to create shade.
  • Avoid peak heat. Whenever possible, avoid spending time outside during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Choose outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the early morning or evening.
  • Got water? Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. In hot and humid weather, it’s more important than ever to ensure everyone in the family—from children and pets to parents and grandparents—get enough water. When it is hot and you are active, the rate your body can absorb fluids is less than the rate it loses water due to perspiration.
  • Don’t overdo warm weather workouts. Reduce the intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more. If you are just beginning an exercise program, the intensity and duration of outdoor activities should start low and then gradually increase over a two-week period to acclimate to the heat and humidity.
  • Slather on the sunscreen. Apply a thick coating of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and use extra caution near water and sand as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly. Be sure to reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Dress infants under 6 months in lightweight, long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that shade the neck. If shade is not an option, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF to small areas, such as the infant’s face and hands.
  • Know your limits. Signs of heat exhaustion include confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headache and fainting. If you start to feel under the weather, don’t ignore your body, and head indoors to cool off. If hydration and cooling do not work, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Look before you lock. Never leave your child alone in a car—not even for a minute. Heat stress in infants is serious—small children are not able to regulate their body temperature the same way that adults do. Every summer, an infant is inadvertently left in their car seat, usually by a loving parent who does not usually make the morning day care run and forgets to drop the baby off. Help avoid this senseless tragedy by:
    • Putting the diaper bag in the front passenger seat of the car to remind you that the baby is in the back.
    • Placing your purse or brief case, cell phone or anything else that you routinely take to work in the back seat so you have to get them out (and check for the baby!) when you arrive at work.
    • Writing a note to yourself and hanging it on the rearview mirror.
    • Setting a timed reminder on your cell phone.