Warm days and sunshine are looked forward to with fervor by Michiganders after months of snow. When the snow and ice leave the roadways, we rejoice! No more going 35 miles an hour and low visibility. But the summer sun comes with hazards of its own, and we need to take precautions to make sure we and our pets are safe. Here are 10 things you should do or know to help beat the heat.
Stay hydrated. It’s essential to keep drinking water throughout the day. If you’re parched, then you’re already getting dehydrated. Avoid high-sugar or high-caffeine drinks as well as alcohol. These liquids really don’t help your body stay hydrated.
Wear appropriate clothing. In Michigan, mornings and evenings can still get cool, so wear layers that you can take off and put back on as you need them. Choose light, breathable fabrics that are light in color to help reflect the sun. Dark colors absorb more heat from the sun.
Save it for later. Avoid doing strenuous or highly physical activity during the warmest part of the day (11am-4pm typically). Plan your activities to take place in the morning or in the evening when the temperature is usually a little kinder.
Understand who is the most sensitive. Old individuals, young children (under age 5), and people with certain medical conditions are more sensitive to heat and its effects on the human body. These individuals should be monitored carefully, and every preventative measure should be used to keep them healthy. Don’t forget about your pets, too. They need plenty of water and shade on hot days. Keep them off of pavement or asphalt to avoid burning their paws.
Watch for signs. There are several heat-related illnesses. One is heat rash, which usually affects young children. It’s itchy and painful. Keep affected areas dry and don’t use cream as that will make the condition worse. Another is dehydration, symptoms of which include dizziness, irritability, thirst, loss of appetite, and fainting. Sometimes, even the most in-shape people can get heat cramps, muscle pains or spasms. To treat this, stop all activity and lie in a cool place. Drink water and apply cooling packs. Heat cramps can also be an early symptom of heat exhaustion. This is when the body loses excessive amounts of water and salt. Symptoms include sweating, pale skin, fast and weak pulse rate, weakness, headache, and nausea. For this to subside, you need to get your body temperature down, gradually. If the symptoms persist, call your doctor or an ambulance.
Keep the RV cool. This is for RVs without air conditioning built in or if you’d rather not run the air conditioning unit. For starters, draw the shades. It seems counter-intuitive, because you want to open the windows to let fresh air in and hot air out, but if you do this early enough in the day, you can help keep the sun from heating up the RV too much. You can also use reflective insulation and cut it to fit your windows, which will reflect up to 97 percent of radiant energy away from the RV windows. Open the ceiling vents, run the fans, and cover skylights. Cook outside instead of in the camper, then dine al fresco as the day winds down.
Bring them along. Don’t leave children or pets unattended in a turned-off vehicle or RV on a warm day, even with windows cracked. The interior of a vehicle can get as much as 20 degrees higher than the air temperature. Every summer we hear terrible stories on the news of this happening – and it’s completely avoidable.
Snack instead of feast. Your body tends to heat up when it has a lot of food to break down, so skip the big meals and snack or have lighter meals throughout the day. Eating more frequently will also keep your body’s metabolism and systems running more efficiently, so you can handle the heat better.
Get inside… a museum. If it’s too hot to do anything outside, then visit one of Michigan’s many air-conditioned indoor attractions. There are science museums, kid-oriented museums, history museums… you name it. Visit our interactive online map to find these types of attractions nearest your campsite. (And if it’s just the adults, Michigan has hundreds of wineries and breweries worth visiting, too.)
Go swimming. With more than 11,000 lakes to choose from, including the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater bodies of water in the world, you don’t need to sweat the day away. Head to the beach and go for a swim. But even if you feel cooled off, remember to still drink plenty of water.