Mar 2017

Beat the Heat

Heat Waves are coming

The day is coming that you will feel burdened by oppressive heat. While we can dress for cold, our heat-beating options are more limited.

The battle against heat has been fought for centuries. Ancient desert dwellers found caves. Jonah, found refuge for a time under the shade of an olive tree. Evaporative coolers have been available since early in the 20th century. The spread of air conditioning expanded economic development in the American south. The efforts to beat the heat continue to present day.

Beating the Heat in 2017

Some of the oldest bits of advice have been updated with new technology. A common bit of advice is to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Some suggest ice water is best.

New vacuum-insulated bottles and tumblers have thermal inner copper plating that keeps drinks cold for as long as 24 hours. These drink containers have a stainless steel shell and liner. They are designed to be rugged and not retain odors or tastes of previous contents.

Still, you don’t always need a high dollar bottle or tumbler. Any water bottle will do the job of keeping a person hydrated. This is important year round, not just on the hottest days. It is wise to look for bottles with wide openings so ice can be added easily. If you don’t want to get water multiple times, there are extra large drink containers available. Some sport bottles have an icy chill stick that attaches to the lid. Fruit and flavor infusers and mixer bottles are other options to tailor drinks to your taste.

Foam and synthetic rubber can and bottle coolers can keep store-bought drink bottles and cans cooler longer. Many fold flat so they can easily be tucked into a pocket or purse. There are countless design options here that allow you to connect with your target audience.

For campers, picnickers and larger work crews, there are now coolers designed to keep food cold for several days. These coolers employ hard plastic walls and thermo-efficient foam insulation.

Lower cost coolers are still effective for day-long use. These come with soft fabric or hard plastic walls. Larger units are available with wheels and telescoping pull handles. Smaller units are sized for personal lunches and snacks. Ask your Staples Promotional Products representative about coolers, you’ll be amazed at the wide variety.

Runners, hikers and bikers can get hydration packs. The hydration pack has a bite valve on a tube that clips for accessibility. A quick bite releases as much water as is desired.

In past times, people settled close to coastal areas partly because the temperature was more even and breezes brought relief. Today we have fans to generate breeze. Besides the household fans, personal choices include hand fans and battery-powered fans that can also spread a cooling mist. Another option is a USB-powered fan that plugs into a computer port.

New technology is also making clothing more efficient. While you are limited to how much you can take off, newer shirts are designed to be breathable, especially in body zones where the greatest heat is generated. Nike®, Under Armour® and others are leaders in this category.

More and more apparel is designed to wick moisture away from the skin. This adds comfort and retains the benefit of cooling by evaporation. Usually employing polyester or polyester-dominated blends, the drawbacks of polyester have been mitigated with antibacterial treatments that reduce lingering odor that was common in older polyester fabrications.

Newer cooling mesh knits have no obvious holes or perforations but still improve breathability. These typically come under names like sport mesh or competition mesh. Shirts, t-shirts and caps are available using these materials.

Another advance in recent years has been cooling towels. These use several strategies to utilize the cooling effect of evaporation. Some are chemically treated, some use special crystals, some use a synthetic chamois-like mesh and others use fabric blends. In most cases the towel is dampened, rung out and then placed around the neck or over the head. In some cases a towel is snapped for activation and some use the moisture of sweat to prolong functioning.

Beat the Heat infographic

Cooling bandanas are also available.

While fewer cars have all vinyl interiors that could burn skin, car interior can heat up quickly. One way to combat the heat buildup is compactable windshield shades. These collapse to a manageable size when not in use and can cover an entire windshield. Other shade options can protect back seat riders from the sun.

A reminder that if you are feeling overly hot, your pet probably is, too. Travel pet water bowls and sport bottles are a popular and thoughtful purchase.

Heat warnings

Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) quick guide to heat notifications:

  • Heat Advisory: These are issued within 12 hours of the start of dangerous heat conditions (which are considered to be when heat indexes are expected to reach 100 degrees or higher for two or more days while air temperatures overnight aren’t predicted to drop below 75 degrees).
  • Heat Index: This is that “feels like” number you often see in weather forecasts; it’s determined by combining relative humidity with the air temperature.
  • Excessive Heat Watch: These are issued when heat events may occur within the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning: Issued within 12 hours of an excessive heat event. The high heat index when heat warnings are issued is expected to be 105 degrees or higher for at least two days, while temperatures overnight will not drop below 75 degrees.
  • Heat Wave: A period of two or more days of unusually hot weather (temperatures outside the historical averages for a given area).

Preventing heat issues

  • Keep well hydrated with water or juice
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages, these increase dehydration; sugary drinks don’t help either
  • Refresh with a bath or shower, time at a pool or lake, spend a couple of hours in an air conditioned space and refresh your skin with a wet towel several times a day
  • Seek shade – trees and wide-brimmed hats are helpful
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Limit physical activity – do as much as possible before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.; get rest between chores; if you need to stand, flex your leg muscles regularly
  • Never leave an unattended child or pet in a car
  • As daily temperatures build, take your time in getting used to these changes

Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke include dizziness, nausea, confusion, headaches and body temperatures above 103.