Ditch the Fan for a Healthier Way to Beat the Heat & some tips for dealing with hot weather.
July 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Much of the country is experiencing a brutal heat wave, and if you’re not able to hunker down all day in a cool body of water (and who can?), your next best thing is stay indoors in air conditioning or with an electric fan blowing on you. Well, not so fast.
In a review published online in The Cochrane Library on July 11, British researchers found that electric fans show no scientific evidence of keeping people cool during extreme intensive heat waves.
In particular, the researchers say that when the thermometer rises above 95 degrees, an electric fan may actually make things worse. “A fan might help to increase heat loss if the temperature is below [95 degrees] and the fan is not directly aimed at the person, but when temperatures are above , the fan might actually contribute to heat gain,” say the researchers. While it is not certain, some experts believe that hot air blowing on a hot person can increase the rate at which the person becomes dehydrates, thereby increasing the risk for heat exhaustion.
That said, the researchers point out that their research doesn’t support or refute the use of electric fans as more research and a larger trial is needed. “We need a large randomized trial to resolve this long-standing and on-going uncertainty, and to help people make well-informed choices about their use,” said co-author, Mike Clarke, from the All-Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology Research in Queen’s University Belfast. Therefore, more information is needed to learn about the potential harms and benefits of electric fans in deciding whether to use one.
Accounting for more deaths per year than from tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes combined, heat is now considered to the most deadly weather-related risk in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And global climate change will likely bring more heat waves.
here are some tips for dealing with the hot weather.
“Hot Weather Safety Tips”
With this summer being an especially hot one in many parts of the country, it’s time for an important reminder to take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses. While the most vulnerable to extreme heat conditions are the elderly, children, infants, and those who are overweight, have chronic medical conditions, exercise outdoors, work outdoors, people on certain medications, and those who do not have air conditioning, the fact is anyone can become dehydrated or develop an heat-related condition, such as:
- Heat rash: During hot, humid weather, excessive sweating can cause a skin irritation known as a heat rash. While common in young children, a person of any age can develop it.
- Heat cramps. Occurring most often in the legs, abdomen, or arms, heat cramps are muscle spasms or muscle pains that may result with heavy exercise in hot weather.
- Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion develops after several days of being exposed to high temperatures in conjunction with an unbalanced or inadequate fluids replacement. Heat exhaustion, which can precede heatstroke, includes rapid breathing, weak and fast pulse, and heavy sweating.
- Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening situation in which the body temperature can rise above 106 degree Fahrenheit in less than 15 minutes. Symptoms include dizziness, dry skin, and a strong, but rapid pulse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these tips for preventing illnesses relating to heat:
- Keep hydrated. When the temperatures are high, drink more fluids even if you’re not exercising. Don’t wait to drink until you’re thirsty. Drink cool beverages, including more water. Steer clear of alcoholic beverages as they can dehydrate you further.
- Stay cool. While air conditioning is best to beat the heat, if you don’t have air-conditioning in your home, consider spending time at a shopping mall or library during the hottest part of the day during an extreme heatwave. As an alternative, take a cool bath or shower to keep yourself cool.
Doctor Headquarters (DrHQ.com) Editorial Staff Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved