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 (168 Responses)
  1. Necrofun

    Instead of having sex in the bedroom where temperature can reach a whopping 185 degrees, have sex in the swimming pool where it's cooler and simply more fun.

    June 29, 2012 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      Only married couples (one of each sex) please. Personally I find having a semi hot bath cools me down than a cool bath. And ice cold milk (okay, ice cream if you must) is better than water.

      June 30, 2012 at 18:57 | Report abuse |
    • don

      drink plenty of beer

      June 30, 2012 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
    • Mrs Time


      July 1, 2012 at 06:36 | Report abuse |
  2. ME

    Everyone, (even u arrogant priggs), please check on your elderly &/or disabled friends&relatives. The ignorant above do not realize or perhaps care, THAT NOT EVERYONE CAN CARE FOR THEMSELVES. Thank You!

    June 29, 2012 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      Even if you're not elderly or disabled, someone should check on you. Unfortunately I haven't heard anything from anyone.

      June 30, 2012 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
    • check on pets too

      That includes checking on pets as well. Lots of idiotic people never think of a dog chained in full or partial sun outside. If you see a dog chained outside- even if the dog isn't yours-, make sure there's plenty of cool water for the dog and deep shade and if there isn't, just take the dog and provide those things. People who don't properly care for their kids, elders or pets shouldn't have them.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:46 | Report abuse |

    6. Move to Washington

    June 29, 2012 at 19:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • astron

      Move to Al (idiot) Gore's mansion where all rooms are nice and cool.

      June 30, 2012 at 03:05 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      I live 35 miles south of Seattle and I bet it's not even 70 outside today. Need the lights on in the house the clouds are so thick.

      June 30, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      I'm assuming the state and not DC (aka "HELL").

      June 30, 2012 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
    • Mrs Time

      I wish.

      July 1, 2012 at 06:37 | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    This is a pretty pointless article...but I guess there are stupid people out there who need to be told.

    June 29, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • atroy

      Well then, count yourself "told".

      June 30, 2012 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
  5. GoRemote

    0. Crank up the air-conditioning..............

    June 29, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ogey Bogey

    Can somebody explain how layers can keep you cool?

    June 29, 2012 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jose S.

      Long sleeve shirts can collect moisture, hold it in between layers and keep you comfortable. Wet a cloth, swing it around in the free air and it becomes cool. Put it to your face and enjoy.

      June 29, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse |
    • Chromedbustop

      Yeah don't assume by layers they mean thick wool sweaters and snow pants.

      June 30, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
  7. smako

    What's this garbage that is swirling all around about having to log in with Facebook when you are already logged in to CNN?

    June 29, 2012 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ChurnTheNews

    73f and looovely in Seattle today.

    June 29, 2012 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. T.Storm

    Why "cope" with it??? I am reveling & enjoying it. After freezing my rear off this past winter, I'm ready to be warm.

    June 29, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. young_voter

    If you take wrestling class, it's best to use the sun and heat to your advantage. Before going inside the class, make sure you are very sweaty. It makes it harder for your opponent to grab you when you are sweating,

    June 29, 2012 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Gomez

    Tip #6 BLAME OBAMA

    June 30, 2012 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply

    Is that a picture of an illegal immigrant chugging water?

    June 30, 2012 at 05:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      If it's an illegal immigrant, what makes you think it's water?

      June 30, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • cm

      Hey Mr Super Clever, why do you think he's illegal- because he looks Hispanic? Your bigotry is showing.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
  13. BLoggerBlahBlah

    Simple , Dont wear Nothing, walk around NAKED , plain and simple , it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that out

    June 30, 2012 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      I hope you don't mean out in public or in front of the kids. Someone very wise once told me that cold weather is better because you can always put another layer of clothes on to keep warm, but when it's hot you can be naked and STILL be overheated.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
  14. mikithinks

    When the man who wants to work on a roof naked becomes an overfired skin and bones figure, paint N and S on his sides, He will make a nice weather vane for the new roof!

    June 30, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Groccery Store

    The grocery store is always nice and cool even bordering on cold in the open refrigerated freezer sections. If you are lucky they will have some samples going on for sausage or some other food so you get cool and fed. Just look at stuff and check prices and you can stay for hours

    June 30, 2012 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      But that's the REAL danger because I end up spending money I don't have.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
    • znhcats

      And become fat by eating too much.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
  16. Ralf The Dog

    You Liberals don't know what you are talking about with all this global warming stuff. It is freezing cold outside. Ignore your godless science and thermometers and stuff, the Bible says it is -20.

    June 30, 2012 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      You're on the right track. If the liberals think it's hot now, it's going to be A LOT hotter when they die.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse |
    • Iroy's just a boy

      Iroy, go back to your Sunday school class. The brainwashing is over and it's time for cookies.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
  17. Orygunrckbilly

    I beat the heat every summer by never leaving the Pac NW – 70 to 80 degrees and green as an emerald – can't beat it (and we deserve it after 6 months of clouds!)

    June 30, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Chris

    This is a stupid and ill-informed article. First, who the hell takes advice on thermoregulation from a roofer? I don't call my physician for plumbing advice, I call my dad, a plumber! Second, his advice is wrong in parts. If someone, stops sweating, that is generally considered heat stroke (not common) and sitting in the shade won't do anything for you. Once heat stroke sets in you need to seek medical attention immediately, and if that's not available, immerse them in ice water. Drinking cold, and even slushy drinks has been shown to enhance endurance performance, so it stems to reason it would help keep you cool. Finally, drink to thirst and don't worry about a little dehydration. If its really hot, you'll move slower (ie, build up heat slower) and if you need to, get out of the heat.

    June 30, 2012 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SmarterNU

      You are way off. Learn to state facts instead of assumptions, it makes you look the fool.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Iroy's just a boy

      Chris: roofers deal with heat every day and obviously implement effective strategies to deal with it. The advice provided was very functional and I agree with the cool but not ice cold water advice. I agree with your comment about ceasing to sweat, however. When people stop sweating, that's a big deal and it means get out of the heat ASAP! Stopping sweating usually coincides with barfing and other signs of heat stroke and can be deadly.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
    • znhcats

      First, not everyone's dad is a plumber.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  19. Venator

    I'm freezing. My A/C has been blasting for days. I was so cold in bed last night I had to turn on my heating blanket.

    June 30, 2012 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mttrailboss

      'Venator'.., funny, funny comment or blog.. I sure liked it. Mike in Montana

      June 30, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      No matter how hot it gets I have to have at least a sheet over me when I sleep.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:07 | Report abuse |
  20. mttrailboss

    This is one of the worst articles, that I have read, for a very long time. Talk about lack of information or a zillion other ways to keep cool in extreme hot weather. Ths person that wrote this, should get another job.

    June 30, 2012 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. whatever

    Put your SHEETS IN THE FREEZER during the day.

    IF you have electricity, but no A/C? Here in sweltering, humid New Orleans, when the A/C broke and we were too poor to fix it, a neighbor recommended this -and it did offer Relief, cool enough to get to sleep.
    Just fold 'em up in tha AM, put them on top of a paper bag in the freezer and forget about it until bedtime. Then just lay them out and get some sleep! (We never fretted about hospital corners and tucking all in when in this level of discomfort.)

    Good luck people. Just remember, use your noodle. The yard and roof work actually can wait!

    June 30, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      Let's see, cold room-warm bed or hot room-cold bed. It all evens out, it's just a matter of balance to get some zzzzzzzs.

      June 30, 2012 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
    • tucsand

      Ya sure ya won't be laughed at for wetting the bed when that melts 🙂

      June 30, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse |
  22. XO

    Are each one of those points common sense? Or am I missing something. Are we this dumb? Why aren't animals dying? This is not a widespread famine in the land.

    June 30, 2012 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. mikrik13

    Fill your bathtub with cold water. Sit in it.

    June 30, 2012 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Larry

    Best way to deal with heat – STOP READING CNN – EL CRAPPO

    June 30, 2012 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Swag

    Stay home use AC if not water park ... If u got asthma keep your inhaler close

    June 30, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Name*dayla

    That helped a lot

    June 30, 2012 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. tucsand

    I live in the desert about 30 miles West of Tucson and one bit of advice is, especially in your kitchen open all the drawers and cabinets as they store heat and it will just make it hotter.

    June 30, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. tucsand

    I can see how you folks on the East side are not use to the kind of heat your having. Its 110 here now in the Sonora Desert and when I go to my moms house in Chicago and it's 90 there, I'm freezing 🙂

    June 30, 2012 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. ohsnap

    Freeze a gallon of water. Sit it in front of a fan...it will cool an entire room. Cheap air conditioning...I use it in my bedroom. Just be sure to keep it in a receptacle so it can catch the condensation.

    June 30, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BearFoot

      Nice! I will be doing this quite often now.

      July 1, 2012 at 02:00 | Report abuse |

    wow, great article! ps. Get Paid Daily....be your own boss! louisac7.blogspot.com

    July 1, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply

    A good way to stay cool is to take a lukewarm to cold shower periodically throughout the day. Helps to keep you cool and fresh. ps. Get Paid Daily....be your own boss! louisac7.blogspot.com

    July 1, 2012 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Faxon

    Oh, gee. How to "beat the heat".
    Swell. Like nobody can figure it out for themselves.
    Thanks a bunch, nanny.
    Now, tell us all how to "beat the 'pain at the pump'."
    Then, tell us all how to "melt fat away".
    Then, tell us all how to "plan for retirement".

    July 1, 2012 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. MT

    TIP number 6: Vote for someone who will put the brake on global warming, instead of denying it to fatten oil company profits.

    July 1, 2012 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bill Millder

    I worked in Phoenix area for 4 years and I'm in the air condtioning trade. Out there the A/C is on the roof and I had plenty of work at least 10 hr days and no stopping at 1:00 pm. What's worse I'm very light shinned and freckled so I used several of the tricks this guy mentioned. I always wore a hat with a rag or shop towel out the back of the hat like the french foreign legion guys. I would soak the hat and the towel with water and of course drink plenty of water all day. Some A/C guys used an umbrella attached to the A/C if the job was going to be a long one.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. JerPell

    Please almighty government tax us heavily from this evil warm weather!

    July 1, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Rob

    This was an informative well written article. Nice to take a break from mudslinging and race baiting.

    July 1, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. uglyfish111

    The reason so many people get over heated is because of how large people are now. Have you sat and watched people walk by lately. Wow looks like invasion of Orcas!

    July 1, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. hermadite

    July 1, 2012

    Mrs. Michelle Obama, First Lady
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mrs. Obama,

    I am writing on behalf of fellow veterans to voice our concern and outrage over an insidious action by the U.S. Government that has created starvation, sickness and financial ruin. Too many American citizens who fought our enemies are eating out of restaurant garbage cans, cannot afford to pay for medicine and facing bankruptcy.

    Briefly, I refer to the practice of Uncle Sam silently deducting college loan payments from Senior Citizens’ Social Security payments. Granted it’s only 15%, but this extra money is sorely needed in today’s depressed economy. Further chagrin is their loss of the yearly 3% “bounty” to offset the rising cost of living. Yes, I will pause while we laugh sardonically at this latter indignity.

    Finally, Mrs. Obama, we hope you will intercede and ask your husband to make that one phone call to stop the injustice of tampering with Social Security payments. It is not just unfair. It is reprehensible. And I speak for hundreds, probably thousands, when we meet this summer.

    Thank you for your consideration. I’m sure you see the ramifications of losing the 2012 election when the general public objects to depriving individuals of their full Social Security benefits. There has been no greater pain for not only veterans, but also baby boomers and retirees.

    Sincerely yours,

    BS:ej Bruce Spencer
    Office of Communications VETS IN PROTEST
    All news media P.O. Box 337
    New York, NY 10163-0337

    July 1, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • phearis

      And this has .... WHAT .... to do with a heatwave in the East?!?

      July 2, 2012 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • didn't know that

      Wow cheers.

      July 2, 2012 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
  39. Kitty

    Or you could have ridiculously low thyroid and thus thrive in the heat.

    July 2, 2012 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. phearis

    We *MIGHT* break 60° in Seattle today. 🙂

    July 2, 2012 at 16:17 | 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.