When temperatures rise into the 80s and 90s and combine with high humidity, it is enough to wilt even the most enthusiastic sun worshiper. The resulting "feels like" temperature puts older adults in particular risk because aging reduces the body's ability to cool off. However, it's important to note that heat stress can occur at any age and is a serious concern. That's why it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress and how to seek treatment.
Here are some common sense and fun ways to beat the Florida heat:
- Water. Drink plenty of it... even if you are not thirsty. You want to drink enough water to avoid getting thirsty. It's important to stay hydrated.
Tip: Carry a refillable water bottle with you at all times. Saving money on purchasing bottled water may encourage you to drink more.
- Dress appropriately. Dress in light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Cotton fabric is suggested.
- Wear a hat or carry an umbrella. Blocking the sun's harmful rays will reduce your chances of sunburn, AND make you feel cooler.
Tip: Wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella does NOT mean that you can skip on applying sunscreen!
- Avoid midday heat. The sun is the hottest between noon and 4:00 p.m. This is a good time to have lunch, nap, go to a movie, or go shopping indoors.
Tip: Follow these tips to help you stay cool at Disney World that includes specific areas in each park where you can find relief from the heat.
Limit vigorous activity. Limiting vigorous activity during the hottest part of the day is advised.
- Do use "keep your cool" gadgets. Whether it is a spray bottle to mist your face, a small personal fan, an umbrella hat, or a thermal-cool neck wrap – they do help!
Tips: Apply cold water to your body's quick cooling spots (back of wrists, neck, elbows and knees). Make your own refreshing cool spray by adding peppermint tea to your spray bottle (the menthol in the tea will give your skin a cool feeling). Another great idea is to use aloe vera. It not only soothes sunburns, but sprays made with aloe, peppermint oil and witch hazel cool better than just water.
- Seek air conditioning. If the temperature is above 90 degrees, fans alone often cannot protect you against heat-related illness.
Tip: Take a day off from the sun and visit one of these cool indoor places or take in a movie or spend the afternoon shopping at a mall.
- Eat light. Avoid heavy foods and opt for foods high in water content – fruits, salads, and soups.
Tip: Freeze a baggie full of grapes for a refreshing treat.
- Take baths and showers. Water conducts heat away from the body, so taking frequent tepid baths or showers is a good cooling technique.
Tip: Utilize those showers at the beach for more than rinsing the sand off your feet.
Seek out "green" spaces. Find a garden or any patch of green. Ideally, head for one with some trees for shade. Trees block the sun and actually act as living air conditioners.
- Enjoy water play. Whether it is the ocean, your hotel pool, a water park, or an interactive splash fountain... enjoy playing in the water wherever you are.
Tip: Inexpensive water guns can be a fun way to stay cool on a hot day.