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May the Shade be with You: Tips for Keeping Cool on the Fourth of July

What America's current heat wave has taught us: Warmth is nice, but heat can plain old wear us out.

Heat, the National Weather Service points out, actually ranks No. 1 among causes of weather-related deaths.

That's an eye-opener, and with much of the country broiling as the Fourth of July arrives, heat safety tips offered by the NWS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are worth reviewing:

• Avoid overexertion. Schedule activity for morning or evening hours.
• Seek out shady spots or other cool refuges.
• If you must be in the sun, apply ample sunscreen, and wear a wide-brimmed hat. Sunscreen, of course, sits on our skin and has a modest impact on our pores' ability to perspire at peak efficiency. If you are active in the sun, be sure to pause regularly and take frequent shade breaks.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to shield skin from the sun. Clothing that carries a high UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating is engineered to buffer skin from UV rays.
• Drink plenty of water and, if exercising outdoors, electrolyte-enhanced beverages. (Exception: People on fluid-restrictive diets.) Limit caffeinated beverages and avoid high-sugar and alcoholic beverages.
• Very cold drinks could cause stomach cramps, so be careful if offered one.
• Never leave anyone or a pet inside a closed, parked vehicle.

The Associated Press reports that 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June. Whew. We sympathize with everyone whose life has been altered by high heat and power outages. Both factors, we found, generated elevated interest in some products at REI stores. Among them:

• Headlamps
• Battery-powered lanterns (for indoor use)
• Windup lights and radios
• Solar chargers
• Camp stoves
• Tent fans

The high heat got us wondering about all-time high temperatures. USA Today assembled a list of the highest temps ever recorded in America's 50 states. The highest on record: 134 degrees in Death Valley in 1913, just 2 degrees lower than the planet's all-time high of 136 (recorded in Libya in 1922).

Best wishes on keeping it cool this Fourth.

Posted on at 8:46 PM

Tagged: Heat, UPF clothing, sun and sunscreen

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