2006_7_health_torch.jpgEven blogging has become unbearable in this weather thanks to the insane (and baffling) amount of heat coming out of our new goddamn laptop. In addition to some less often encountered consequences of scalding temperatures, Gothamist wants you, the reader, to stay cool during these tepid times and avoid more common ailments. The New York Times reported yesterday that 48 of our United States reported temperatures above 90 degrees. We also learned that Death Valley, California reached an almost made-up sounding 126 degrees while a car with its windows rolled up could hit 150 degrees inside. On WNYC, NYU Professor Eric Klinenberg, who wrote Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (about the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed 700 people), said that it takes 2-3 days of 90 degree weather to cause deaths. Though it hasn’t gotten quite that hot here yet, real health problems lurk with our own heat index hovering around 100, with dehydration being the main culprit in all:

  • Heat syncope: Simply passing out because your blood vessels dilate to help release body heat, taking precious, precious blood away from your brain. This hottie needs rest and fluids – plain water will do nicely.
  • Heat cramps: Dehydration and loss of electrolytes can cause painful muscle spasms, especially after exercise. This hot mama needs fluid with electrolytes in it (i.e. Gatorade), as plain water won’t replace the salt lost in her sweat.
  • Heat exhaustion: This guy will have a fever, fast heart rate, and moist skin. He may even act a little kooky and needs to get to a dry, cool place where he’ll get hydration, salt, and ice packs. In other words, this dude needs an emergency room.

  • Heat stroke: This is the mother of being overheated. This will actually kill a person by causing severe damage to their brain, heart, liver, or kidneys. They person will be totally out of it, with a very high fever, and (this is key) will not be able to sweat. Very young, very old, and people on certain medications are at risk for this catastrophic event. Again, get thee to the ER.
And remember that you can always retreat to an air-conditioned cooling center or city pool if you just can’t take it. Read on for more tips on keeping your cool from 1010 WINS.
  • If possible, stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. Dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Drink fluids - particularly water - even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun's peak hours - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cool down with repeated cool baths or showers.
  • Never leave children, seniors, or pets in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
  • Make a special effort to check on neighbors, especially seniors and those with special needs.
  • Report open fire hydrants by calling 311.