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July 6th, 2010
03:34 PM ET

Heat advice, from Death Valley to the Northeast

In Inyo County, California, home to Death Valley, residents say the dry heat of 100 degrees in the summertime is actually pleasant.

But add humidity to triple-digit temperatures, and just stepping outside can make you sweat. You can also put yourself at risk of heatstroke if you're not properly hydrated.

That's what the Northeast is experiencing today. The heat index, which incorporates temperature and humidity, could be between 100 and 105 on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Read more about the situation

CNN asked Dr. Rick Johnson, Health Officer for Inyo and Mono County, California, for advice for those Americans braving the heat on the opposite coast.

He recommends having a plan in place for if your electricity or air conditioning goes out, if you have it to begin with. Plan to go to a mall, coffee shop, library, museum, or other air-conditioned space, and bring a lot of water with you.

The group particularly at risk of falling ill because of heat is the elderly, especially those living without air conditioning, Johnson said. Someone needs to visit and check on these people twice a day; Johnson recommends having a "buddy system" whereby someone makes sure the elderly person is OK.

For people who work outside - for example, painters, roofers, road crews, and other construction workers - if possible, work should be done in the early morning or later in the afternoon/evening if possible to minimize the exposure to direct sunlight, he said.

Everyone should make sure to drink plenty of water. Here are some tips on hydration. Wear sunscreen even if you're just going outside for a few minutes; sunburn is a sign of skin damage and susceptibility to other effects of heat, he said. Avoid strenuous activities in the middle of the day.

Taking a cool shower, bath or sponge bath is important, especially for those without air conditioning, he said. Applying water and then stand in front of a fan can be particularly helpful if there's no air conditioning.

Soaking feet in cold water can also provide relief, especially for elderly or persons with decreased mobility. That's because your extremities receive a lot of blood, so if your feet get cooled off, that cools of blood that's going back into the rest of your system.

"If there’s any damage from excessive heat, it’s because circulation has shut down to the internal organs, so cooling off the extremities will go a long way toward helping with that," he said.


soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Sweden

    It was 38 C (100 F) in New York City today.
    Very hot, but the air was not humid.

    I can't wait for fall already

    July 6, 2010 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Tammy

    Omg only 105?..I live in Tucson az and it's always well past 100 in the summer

    July 7, 2010 at 05:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billshut

      But it's a DRY HEAT, Tammy.....and besides, you're used to it, so you know how to deal with it. I'd bet you don't spend all day outside in that heat either, do you?
      I live in north Texas, and we get high heat with higher humidity than you see in Arizona, and it does make it a LOT less comfortable. When it's humid, your body has a harder time cooling off, because the humidity slows down the evaporation process of your sweat off your body (which is what cools us down, and why it's important to keep babies cool, since they can't sweat until they reach a certain age, and overheat much easier than we do).

      Good advice in the article. My advice is that if you're getting too hot, go treat yourself to a movie at the theater. You know they always keep them nice and cool.

      July 7, 2010 at 08:31 | Report abuse |
    • RJ1967

      Easterners are big whiners. They sit in air conditioned offices and dream up ways to screw those of us in the west that have real jobs.

      July 7, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
  3. bill

    The high temperture here in Las Vegas is great for the girls with Mini-skints...they are just one inch below what they want to cover...But it seems that no body cares any more...Nev From the Palms in Las Vegas..

    July 7, 2010 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jim Zinc

    Hey Billl, if the chicks want to run around naked in the desert, it's fine with me!

    July 7, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Odalice Feliz

    I feel sorry for all the elderly who live alone and are in this heat.... hope they take there bath regularly.

    July 7, 2010 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.