By Kathy Richard, Co-Founding Director, Acadiana Cultural Health Access
As Acadiana temps are predicted to continue to hit 100 again this summer, we encourage you to be mindful of the dangers of heat to yourselves and your fellow humans, particularly around festivals and other outdoor cultural activities. Check in on your elderly family, friends and neighbors who may be struggling to pay their electric bills or live in apartments without access to AC, who may need fans, who may be sleeping in their cars on hot nights with the AC running, who may need a ride to a cooling station (such as a library) on sweltering days or simply appreciate regular deliveries of ice.
In particular, when you’re dancing up a storm during the summer and early fall festivals, pay attention to the potential deadly consequences of DEHYDRATION, or the loss of more fluid than taken in, resulting in insufficient fluids to carry out normal bodily functions. Ironically, thirst isn’t always a reliable indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated.
6 Tips to Beat the Heat
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the heat is to stay well hydrated. Drinking water is best. Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar. Keep in mind that you may need to drink more than usual if you are exercising or sweating excessively. Foods with a high water content, like watermelon, are also hydrating.
Skip heavy meals or foods with a lot of fat that can tax your digestive system and make you feel sluggish. When it’s hot out, opt for fresh foods with a high water content, such as fruits and vegetables. Salads and smoothies are great choices when the heat is on.
When temps soar, spritzing yourself with some cool water can keep you comfortable. As the water evaporates on your skin, it cools you. It’s easy to pack a spray bottle in your ice chest when you’re heading out for a festival.
You don’t need to stop exercising when it’s hot, but you may need to modify what you do. Slow your two-step down and switch to activities that don’t cause you to overheat, such as swimming. Opt for an indoor workout in air-conditioning or work out during the coolest part of the day, such as early morning or in the evening.
Stick with lighter colors that don’t attract the heat of the sun. Opt for synthetic fabrics that are designed to wick away sweat or wear light and loose-fitting cotton. The goal is to allow the sweat on your skin to evaporate quickly.
If you find it hard to cool your body down, wet a washcloth with cold water or fill a bag with ice and then place on your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists for some quick cooling comfort. If you use ice, place a towel between the ice and your skin.
Beat the Heat at Home
Whether you’re a musician playing on the event stage or enjoying yourself on the dance floor, remember to look out for each other out there.