Jul 21, 2022 - Energy & Environment

What to do in extreme heat

Illustration of the planet earth wearing a pair of sunglasses
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Record-breaking heat waves are sweeping the U.S., Europe and Asia, making it even more important to stay hydrated, stay cool and stay calm.

Why it matters: Extreme heat affects our bodies and our brains. But there are steps we can all take to get through these scorching days safely.

Here are some things you can do:

1) Eat your water. You read that right. We all know to drink water, but that's not the only way to stay hydrated. You can get your daily fill from certain foods too.

  • Try fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges and grapes, or vegetables like cucumber and celery. If you want something salty, olives and pickles are quite hydrating as well, per the New York Times. For dessert, choose a popsicle.
  • And spicy foods are also good at keeping you cool by making you sweat.

2) Get loose. Wearing loose-fitting clothes that let air circulate is the best way to dress for a heat wave, per a study of Bedouin tribes that thrived in the Arabian desert.

3) Sleep well. Heat waves can sneak up on people in the middle of the night.

  • Try freezing your sheets and pillows and taking a cold shower before bed. And avoid late-night snacks, which warm your body up.
  • If it's too hot to sleep comfortably, considering going to a cooling shelter or staying with friends who have access to air conditioning.

4) Look out for your neighbors. Neighborhoods without strong social ties suffer the most during periods of extreme heat, sociologist Eric Klinenberg tells Axios. Friends and neighbors can keep tabs on each other, recognize signs of heat stroke and save lives.

5) Be patient. Studies show that super hot weather can warp our minds, making us more irritable, angry and stressed.

  • Try your best to cool off — mentally — and exercise patience with the people in your life as we navigate the heat.
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