How to find relief from the heat

This week, a heat dome perched itself atop most of the country, driving temperatures dangerously high. And that oppressive heat is not supposed to let up. If you live in a region where temperatures are approaching or are already in the triple digits, it’s safest to stay inside and stay cool.

However, if you live in an area where temperatures are merely uncomfortable, not life-threatening, you will benefit from products that are designed to keep you cool. This article will walk you through how your body works to stay cool and what you can do to help.

What is a heat dome?

It seems like the media is coining new terms, such as bomb cyclone and polar vortex, whenever new weather characteristics are identified. Even though many of these are not actual meteorological terms, they are grounded in real phenomena. And they are very descriptive and catchy.

A heat dome, for instance, is brought on by a lingering high-pressure zone. In a high-pressure zone, hot air is drawn downward instead of traveling up, and temperatures near the surface of the earth rise. This zone becomes stagnant when the jet stream swings further north than usual, trapping the hot air over the U.S. Though this weather pattern will eventually move on, it travels very slowly, creating a heatwave that can last for several days or weeks.

How does the human body stay cool?

The human body functions best when it is at or near 98.6 degrees. Any time there is a condition, whether internal or external, that makes the body’s core temperature drop or climb below or above healthy limits, the hypothalamus kicks in (like a thermostat) and triggers reactions that help regulate your body’s core temperature.

When your core temperature gets too hot, among other important tasks, the hypothalamus signals your body to sweat. This causes water that is held in the middle layer of skin to be released, along with the body’s salt. When sweat sits on the surface of your skin, it evaporates. As it evaporates, heat is removed from your body and you cool off.

As tempting as it may be to wipe sweat from your brow, that can actually inhibit the body’s cooling mechanism because it removes moisture that would otherwise evaporate and cool you down.

For the body’s cooling mechanism to keep functioning, you must replace the water you’ve lost. This is why it is so important to stay hydrated during physical activities that cause you to sweat.

How can I help my body stay cool?

There are three main ways you can help your body stay cool: Change your environment, stay hydrated and encourage evaporation.

Change your environment

If your body temperature is increasing due to external factors, the quickest and easiest way to lower your temperature is to change your environment. If you are outside in the direct sunlight, move to the shade or go inside. Find an environment that is cooler so your body doesn’t have to do all the work to lower its temperature.

Stay hydrated

Water is the secret ingredient that gives your body the ability to stay cool. As long as you remain properly hydrated, your hypothalamus has a good chance of accomplishing its job keeping your body functioning the way it should.

Encourage evaporation

Since evaporation is the main method your body uses to stay cool, anything you can do to facilitate evaporation is beneficial. This could involve lowering the humidity in your home with a dehumidifier (so the air has more room to absorb moisture) or sitting in front of a fan — when air moves across a damp surface, it increases the rate of evaporation.

Signs you are getting too hot

There are two common heat-related illnesses: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While heat exhaustion is serious and should be treated right away, heat stroke is life-threatening and must be treated immediately.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a condition that usually develops over several days of exposure to high temperatures or inadequate hydration. Heat exhaustion can happen to people who are working or exercising in a hot environment, as well as the elderly and individuals with high blood pressure. The most common symptoms are heavy sweating, muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, paleness, nausea and fainting.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke happens when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Sweating stops and the body temperature rises rapidly. Since the body is unable to cool itself down, the skin will turn red, become hot and the pulse will be rapid and strong. A throbbing headache may occur along with nausea, dizziness, confusion and unconsciousness. With heat stroke, the body must be immediately cooled to get it below 102 degrees. While this can include moving the person out of the sun, submersion in cool water, or spraying them with a hose, someone should be calling 911 or the local emergency number to get immediate help.

Products to help keep you cool in the summer

Vornado Whole Room Air Circulator Tower Fan

Vornado Whole Room Air Circulator Tower Fan

Circulating the air not only evens out the temperature of a room, it also helps with evaporation to keep you feeling cooler. This model has four speed settings and can move air up to 100 feet. The five-year guarantee provides peace of mind.

Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Wayfair

Holmes Window Fan

Holmes Window Fan

This dual-blade window fan has two speed settings and a manual reverse so you can draw cool air in while pushing warm air out. It has a water-resistant motor, so it is safe to use during rainy weather.

Sold by Amazon

Pelonis Three-Speed Box Fan

Pelonis Three-Speed Box Fan

A box fan creates a strong breeze, which increases evaporation, making you feel immediately cooler. This three-speed model is lightweight and sturdy, so you can easily move it to any location you desire.

Sold by Amazon

Orbit Flex Cobra Portable Mist Stand

Orbit Flex Cobra Portable Mist Stand

The clever design of this misting hose allows it to stand on its own. It is pliable so you can adjust the direction of the spray. Besides cooling you, Orbit’s Flex Cobra can help reduce the temperature of the surrounding area as well. The hose also comes with a flower-shaped attachment, if you’d like to add a little whimsy to your outdoor decor.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

HandFan Portable Handheld Misting Fan

HandFan Portable Handheld Misting Fan

Whether you are out for a run, in a crowd or just lounging around your backyard, this personal misting fan can help keep you cool. It can mist for up to 10 minutes, has three speeds and a built-in nightlight, in case you’d like to bring it to the club.

Sold by Amazon

Mission Cooling Neck Gaiter

Mission Cooling Neck Gaiter

This innovative accessory can be worn in a variety of ways to help keep you cool. Simply wet the neck gaiter, wring out the excess water and snap it three times to activate its cooling properties. The gaiter cools to 30 degrees below body temperature and stays comfortable for up to two hours. For convenience, the item is machine-washable.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Koolgator Cooling Neck Wrap

Koolgator Cooling Neck Wrap

Koolgator’s cooling scarf is a reusable neck wrap that provides relief all day long. It is made with soft, breathable material so it doesn’t chafe and has slip-free snap fasteners that keep it in place so you can attend to your activities without worrying it will fall off. It is available in a variety of colors. 

Sold by Amazon

 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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