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5 tips to survive extreme heat
A roofer in Walnut Creek, California, takes a break from the heat.
June 20th, 2012
10:05 AM ET

5 tips to survive extreme heat

Editor's note: This article was first published last summer on The Chart. We're republishing to share these important tips again with you.

The number of national heat advisories is rising almost as fast as the temperature. So we asked Ray Byrne, owner of America Roofing LLC, in Glendale, Arizona, who works outside in sometimes scorching weather, for his tips on how a heat pro deals with extreme temperatures.

Byrne – who has been working in the roofing business for nearly 25 years – said the average temperature in Glendale during the summer is about 115 degrees.

"Basically at 100 degrees, it's not too bad," he said. "At about 110 [degrees], you start feeling it, and at 120 [degrees], you start losing productivity."

The company holds monthly safety meetings on heatstroke and exhaustion to remind its staff of smart protocol.

Here are some strategies Byrne and his roofing employees use to stay cool. Adapt them to fit your needs whether you're outside all day or working in your garden for the afternoon.

1. Hydration is key

Hydrating at frequent intervals is critical, rather than waiting until you’re at your maximum thirst.

“The minute you think you need a drink, stop and take the drink right then,” Byrne said. “If you don't you'll end up getting heat exhaustion.”

2. Drink cool – not cold – water

This distinction makes all the difference. Byrne described the sensation from drinking extremely cold water like getting a brain freeze from a Slurpee, except amplified.

3. Start early

If you’re working outside, make every effort to start before the sun comes up or at least before it’s reached its peak.

His company routinely starts work at about 5 a.m., and the crews try to finish up by 1 p.m., says Byrne.

4. Stay wet

If he notices that somebody has stopped sweating, Byrne recognizes it as the first sign of heat exhaustion. He’s experienced it more than once.

"No matter what that individual is doing, he needs to go sit in the shade, sip some water – just sip it, don't chug it – and just get yourself off the roof and in the shade," he said.

When working with metal roofing, Byrne said, he brings a hose up and douses himself with water to stay cool.

5. Dress strategically

Although the roofers are required to wear long sleeves, Byrne said he wears light colors to reflect the sun.

Even the color of your footwear is significant – Byrne said white shoes versus dark shoes could mean the difference between having cool feet and feeling like you have blisters.

Also on The Chart: Heat hurts your insides too


soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Hamsta

    When I was working as a welder and fitter I found putting ice in my hat and growing my hair long very effective at dealing with extreme heat.

    June 22, 2012 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr ruth..

      were you in flash dance?

      June 29, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Odd, as a woman I find keeping my hair cut short in the summer is infinitely more comfortable. Granted, I'm not working outdoors for long periods of time but even for just walking around the neighborhood, it's a big help.

      June 29, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • Q

      #1 method. Join local tea party and pretend it's not real.......works every time

      June 29, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • Not Jessica

      Understood! The ice under the hat melts, wets your hair and the hair keeps your neck cool. But if you cut your hair short and walked around the neighborhood, like Jessica, you would meet more girls!

      June 29, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
  2. Abdul malik

    The great tips,Thanks...

    June 29, 2012 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Abdul malik

    The great tips,spl 4 me i m belong indian desrt thar,frm barmer,rajasthan,Thanks ji...

    June 29, 2012 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr ruth..

      WHAT? Could you pleaase explain? is that english?

      June 29, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
    • RuRu

      Quick – get out of the heat! Speaking jibberish is a sure sign of heat distress.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • LoCoSu@%s

      He is saying he is from the Thar desert in Rajasthan India, specifically the city of Barmer. That is one hot place.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  4. pmn

    #6, just move to a colder climate! 🙂

    June 29, 2012 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Get real.

      stupid reply. Oh, it must be so blissful in your ignorant world.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • Dr ruth..

      I am with you brother... I just add a decent amount of cold beer and I am happy..

      June 29, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      I thought the 6th Rule was "No Shirt, No Shoes." Oh wait, that was a different set of rules...And I am not suppose to talk about them.

      June 29, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
  5. marc2724

    Is the public this stupid that they need to be told how to stay cool in hot weather, I can see that we really are raising idiots.

    June 29, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • j0eschm0e

      the only idoit I see here is you. its just a short article. plus its the journalist that wrote it, not the public. but the idiot in you is complaining about the least little thing. so look beyond your short di ck nose and stop bi t ch ing and blaming the public for this journalists' story

      June 29, 2012 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
    • j0eschm0e

      bit ch and blame, you must be a democrat

      June 29, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
    • latricoteuse

      And clods

      June 29, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
  6. to-marc2724

    why such arrogance? People DO get complacent and they DO forget simple things while rushing around with their lives. So, a few reminders is NOT raising people or saying they are stupid. Get a grip.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • marc2724

      all of you cant be serious, when someone walks out the door into humidity or excessive heat that should trigger something in their "busy schedule" that precautions need to be taken. by the way im a far right republican, thats for the other message responses. When I get up in the morning and watch the weather, if its going to be cold, i know how to dress, if its going to be hot I know how to dress, i dont need to be told by someone, it called COMMON SENSE.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • Dr ruth..

      Awhhhh ... how hot is it?

      June 29, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • sam

      You just admitted that you needed to be told by the weatherman...

      June 29, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
  7. SigniAdler

    stay inside.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. deuce

    Currently hotter than hell here in Wisconsin. Thank God I work indoors...

    June 29, 2012 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. New Gawker

    A frozen bottle of water put it on your neck or wrist will cool you down.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mike smith

    I love wackin in the heat then passn out

    June 29, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrew

      If you can't beat the heat, beat the meat

      June 29, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  11. Phx resident

    Not sure how the average summer temperature in Glendale, AZ could be 115 when it seldom gets that high in the Phoenix metro area during the summer

    June 29, 2012 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel Fowler

      Well, I've lived in the "Phoenix area" for over 40 years, and 115 or above is USUAL in the summer! And this fellow is a roofer, so the temps would be even hotter up on top of a building. As for the silly suggestion from someone that people should "stay inside," how do expect roofers or other workers whose jobs require outdoor work to comply with that advice??

      June 29, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
    • BeMine

      Posted temperatures are taken in the shade. When you are in the sun temperatures can be 10-15 degrees hotter then what the weatherman says. So yeah it can 115 on a roof.

      June 29, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  12. Iceman

    I invented (oh yes I did!) "ice hat"
    steppo1: take a hand towel or small towel, then douse it with water. Squeeze out most but leaf some
    Stepps2-4: put in freezer
    Lasteppo: put on head, mold into darth vender helmet
    ps.tep: enjoy

    June 29, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jack 63

    Beat the heat, move to SE Alaska.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. LR

    WOW! Lots of friendly, considerate people posting here. Must be a slow day for the mean-spirited and rude among us.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. claire

    Take salt pills to help retain water in your body. put one of those head bands that hold frozen water in your straw hat to cool your brain and get in the shade of a tree when you can.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rob

      precisely- that's what makes the "electrolytes" (aka salt) in sport drinks so critical. One of the best pieces of advice I received as a college athlete was to drink pickle juice. I get strange looks overseas when I try this, but I can definitely say it saved my butt in a number of mideast countries

      June 29, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  16. BoogerFree

    Take cool showers. Stay away from golden showers.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Long Dong Silver

    I know women like to stay wet..it gets me excited just thinking about it.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really?

      Unfortunately for you THINKING is as far as you will ever get

      June 29, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  18. EXTREME HEAT

    5 WAY FOR EXTREM HEAT !

    June 29, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. WD

    This will be one of those rare days when I do drink Gatorade.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Twna B.

    I knw what to do to stay cool just stay inside.I don't leave my house until it's time for me to go to work.

    June 29, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 123elle

    I live in Mountain View California, Silicon Valley. Right now it's 61 on its way to a high of 74, and it will pretty much stay this way all week. I appreciate this because I came from Minneapolis, where the humidity at 95 degrees made it feel like h-e double L. I would have rather been in Arizona at 120 than Minneapolis with that humidity.

    June 29, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KC1985

      I agree. Dry heat is much easier to contend with than humid air. The humidity, coupled with the excessive temperatures, makes for a pretty miserable summer in the Midwest.

      June 29, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Luckily it rarely hits 95 in Minneapolis.

      June 29, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
  22. joosh

    Global Warming is a myth! God wouldn't allow us to bake like that. What is science? #sarcasm

    June 29, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really?

      Yes, but the global warming debate is heating up

      June 29, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
  23. Really?

    This just in: Eating may be key to preventing hunger!

    June 29, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. JGN

    Well didn't we all get out of bed with misguided anger once again?
    Did you ever stop to think that maybe it's not SO important to write to a stranger today about what a complete idiot they are?
    I mean, what are the odds, you probably won't die today and they probably won't either but wouldn't it be sort of pathetic if that were your last interaction with them? Bad enough that it's your first!

    June 29, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. KC1985

    The point about drinking cool, rather than cold, water was news to me. Your typical reaction when it's miserably hot out (as it has been here in Kansas City for the past several days) is to grab a glass of ice cold water. I'm glad for the reminders when so much of our nation is under excessive heat advisories. I have a lot of respect for the men and women who work outside to keep our country running- I'm sure it's not an easy job.

    June 29, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RuRu

      As a runner, I have found that wetting paper towels and sticking them in your bra will help keep you cool. Also wrap cool paper towels around your neck when done.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse |
    • ,jmghkjgi

      the colder the water the more heat your body creates to bring it to body temperature

      June 29, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • Bigubu

      The reason for drinking water when it is really hot is not to cool you doown, it is to replenish the water that you are losing through your sweat. If you are over heating and you drink extremely cold water it is a shock to your internal system and organs. drinking cool water does not shock your system and provides you with water so you can continue to sweat. when you sweat the sweat evaporates, and the sweat evaporating is what cools your body.

      June 29, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
  26. oscar

    Just dont put any clothes on.oh wait well maybe if your worling on a metal roof just wear a tool belt pardon my pun .lol. tool belt....what a gas....

    June 29, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Michael Long

    Tip #6: Become a black person

    June 29, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Erin

      Oh? I didn't know black people don't get heatstroke. You should publish your expertise. (sarcasm)

      June 29, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
  28. El Duderino (if you're not into the whole brevity thing)

    The best thing to do when it's hot is to dip your balls in a bowl of cool water (not ice cold).

    June 29, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • New Gawker

      What if you're in a public park?

      June 29, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
  29. Aeromechanic.

    1) Miller Lite
    2) Sapporo
    3) Dos Equis
    4) Mojitos
    5) Sangria

    June 29, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boytjie

      6) Fall off the roof

      June 29, 2012 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
  30. Craig

    I thought this was an article about Lebron James .. Deal with it !

    June 29, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mikestatesvillenc

    What is Al Gore up to these days?

    June 29, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. ampm*&

    Its about 73 degrees and slightly cloudy in S.F....Just saying.

    June 29, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrew

      I'll take a heat wave over cool SF any day. Long live Summer!

      June 29, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  33. Teresa

    All good tips for keeping cool. I have had heat exhaustion ad heat stroke neither one is l aughing matter. Sometimes you have to remind people. Some people think soda and alcohol are good during extreme heat but both dehydrate you. Powerade and gatorade are the best drinks to keep you hydrated. Not doing exercise in the extreme heat.

    June 29, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. sam

    Take bath salts and head to Dairy Queen. Many customers will be suffering from brain freeze, which means their brains will be especially refreshing to eat!

    June 29, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. cool here

    Another way to stay cool, move to Alaska. We are currently a cool 52 and hardly ever gets above 70 in the summer.

    June 29, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Michael

    How about

    6. Get air conditioning

    7. STAY INDOORS!!

    As an Arizona native I know more about keeping cool then some doctor from Atlanta.....

    June 29, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LinSea

      I've lived in both hot dry and hot humid climates. Try spending a week in 90-degree Atlanta with 95 percent humidity sticking like used chewing gum to every pore on your body. You will run screaming back to your nice, dry 110 degrees in Arizona.

      June 29, 2012 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
  37. Michael

    I can beat the heat and my meat at the same time....

    June 29, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rob

    Salts are essential, for helping retain water in the body.
    One of the best pieces of advice I received as a college athlete was to drink pickle juice. I get strange looks overseas when I try this, but I can definitely say it saved my butt in a number of mideast countries

    June 29, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. LinSea

    Come to Seattle. It isn't supposed to get over 70 for the next week.

    June 29, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Gaston *

    Nice hot cup of tea : one cup cools you more than a litre of cold water

    June 29, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Gary

    I find AC to do a good job at keeping me cool.

    June 29, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Will

    Its Obamacare

    June 29, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Keksi

    Tip No.6-Drink your urine.

    June 29, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Alex

    OBAMA'S "Five ways to survive extreme heat":
    Don't wear black...oops, oh well
    Don't stand so close to the BBQ
    Hold a cold bottle of Malt Liquor to your forehead or back of neck
    Open fire hydrant (remove your $150 Nikes before you do this)
    Don't over exert yourself...walk away from the police instead of running

    ROMNEY'S "Five ways to survive extreme heat":
    Wear white...see? half the battle is won!
    Take a dip in your built-in/rooftop swimming pool
    Have your maid make you an iced tea
    Fly (in your private plane) to your home on the beach (remove Cole Haan's before jumping into the ocean)
    Don't over exert yourself...play golf instead of tennis

    June 29, 2012 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      Obama is rich. D o U c H e.

      June 29, 2012 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
  45. Marck moses komakech

    @ Erin who said black should be having heatshocks' how many blacks have u ever seen with heat shocks.yes the black skins tends to absorb alot of heat but nt to the point of having shocks' thx moses uganda kampala.

    June 29, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Bruce Moore

    Tip #6: Use an IceSkulz to Be Cool! Check it out, the cure for the heat wave: http://www.iceskulz.com

    June 29, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Juan

    As for dressing for the weather it always makes me think about why a three piece suit is the standard in business attire across the country. I live in Miami, Florida, where today it reached close to a hundred, yet you see people walking around in suits, it looks rediculous and insane. How are you going to wear something that keeps you warm in cold weather on a day that is 100 degrees. There are many options that look professional and can keep you cool such as a guayabera or nice polo or something. I could just imagine someone on a 110+ day in death valley walking around in a suit thinking they look sleek and professional.

    June 29, 2012 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. HUW THOMAS

    I live in Wales. We haven't seen the sun for weeks.

    June 29, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. patrick

    People in very hot places "middle east" dress in layers to keep cool. For the life of me i could never understand that until i got alittle older and realized the concept. go figure....lol

    June 29, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Alvina

    Great tips, i could use these.

    June 29, 2012 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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