washingtonpost.com > Metro > Special Reports > Summer Weather

Hot Weather Resources


Here are a few tips on ways to stay safe and cool this summer:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink 2-4 glasses of cool fluids each hour.
  • Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.
  • Keep cool indoors: If you can, stay in an air-conditioned area. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.
  • Plan outdoor activities around the heat: If you must go outside, go before noon or at night when it's cooler. Avoid strenuous physical activities or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day, usually the early morning.
  • Give your body a break: Heat is stressful on your body. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Eat light meals, avoiding high-protein foods because they increase metabolic heat.
  • Donít take salt tablets unless directed by a doctor.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, which helps reflect sunlight.
  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Sunburn makes it more difficult for your body to cool off.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a carónot even for a few minutes. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature in a car on a 93-degree day can soar to 125 degrees in just 20 minutes and approximately 140 degrees in 40 minutes.

Q & A

When it's hot, most people know to drink plenty of fluids and avoid exercising outside. But if you drink that iced latte, do you risk dehydration from the caffeine? And what can you do about heatstroke? Here are answers to five frequently asked questions on how to beat the heat:

What should I do if I think someone has heatstroke?

If someone near you has symptoms of heatstroke (rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion or unconsciousness), call for medical help. Then get the victim into the shade and cool his body fast by spraying him with a hose or pouring cups of water on him. Stay in one place while you wait for an ambulance.

Do caffeine and alcohol really dehydrate you?

Yes, but you probably won't feel the difference just by drinking a Coke. Caffeine and alcohol do make your body lose water by increasing blood flow to the kidneys and slowing the rate at which your body absorbs sodium. However, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are mostly water, so that midday soda or after-work beer won't make you feel sick. Nevertheless, stay away from anything with a high concentration of caffeine or alcohol. Espresso, for example, has about 100 milligrams of caffeine in just 50 milliliters of water.

If it's humid outside, will opening doors and windows make my house warmer or cooler?

If the temperature outside is significantly higher than the temperature in your home, keep the windows and doors closed.

What foods make me feel coolest?

Ice cream seems like the natural choice when it's hot, but sorbet or a popsicle makes you feel cooler and less sluggish. Hot foods and heavy meals create heat to metabolize them.

How do I get used to the heat?

It takes two or three weeks of living in hot weather for your body to adapt. In time, your body will start to sweat more, which will help you cool faster, and it will excrete less salt. Your heart rate will be lower, which means your body is working less to perform the same tasks. However, a period of cooler weather will erase the acclimatization process, so if the temperature drops for more than a day or two, you'll have to start from square one.

For more information, please read the Washingtonpost.com live discussion transcript held with Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

ALSO: Take precautions against heatstroke this summer

Where to avoid the heat:

SWIMMING POOLS: Washington's best places to take a dip

SUMMER MOVIES: Sit out the heat in a cool theater

MUSEUM GUIDE: Norman Rockwell, Yves Klein, Chuck Close and more

SUMMER BEACH GUIDE: How to make getting there half the fun

© 2007 The Washington Post Company