What does extreme heat do to the human body?
Heatwaves throw the body’s internal regulation systems out of kilter.
To cope with extreme heat, we sweat - but this leads to the loss of fluids and salts. High temperatures widen blood vessels, causing sudden drops in blood pressure.
Cerberus heatwave, Rome. The Guardian UK
After prolonged exposure to extreme heat, we lose the ability to perspire at all. Eventually, the brain shuts down. Older people are far more at risk, as are those with underlying health conditions.
Heat can kill people very quickly, much quicker than the cold.
Heatwave in Spain. AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
And humidity can make the heat index, the number that it ‘feels like’, really skyrocket. For instance, if the air temperature is 94 F, high humidity could make it feel like 115 F.
In the Southern parts of the United States, there’s a lot of moisure pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico. That’s increasing the humidity an making the heat index really climb.
What can we do to prevent heat stroke?
HYDRATE: During heatwaves, it’s important to stay hydrated. But some of the beverages we ingest can exacerbate the problem. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea are diuretics, and cause the body to release fluids. So basically, we pee out what we put in. Drink more water, more herbal teas, and more beverages that are non-alcoholic or caffeinated.
This spring, we started making fruit-infused water, which is delicious, and has no added sugar. There are plenty of pitchers on Amazon that you can get for around $20-$25 that allow you to put sliced fruit in the water and in 4 hours or so, gives the water a subtle fruit flavor that makes it more palatable for those who are bored with plain water. Here's one we like, but there are lots out there: AMAZON
CLOTHING: Wear loser, light-colored clothing made of natural fibers in a heat wave. Darker colors absorb the heat, and will make you feel hotter.
Many of our customers are confused as to why we sell dark parasols when dark fabrics absorb more heat. The answer is because you aren’t wearing it on your body. Those darker fabrics actually absorbing the heat will keep you cooler under a parasol. While all of our fabrics absorb over 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, the darker fabrics absorb more heat, and you will stay cooler under those than a pure white one. Leave the pure white ones for outdoor weddings. Using a parasol with some color on it will keep you cooler.
COMPRESSES: Freeze a damp tea towel and use it on your neck and forehead during the day.
SHOWER: Take a lukewarm, not cold shower. When you take a cold shower, the body has to work harder to warm up again, which can lead you to feeling hotter. Warm water actually cools your bloodstream, so take a lukewarm shower to regulate your body more efficiently.
COOL YOUR TOES: Surprisingly, feet are one of your body’s fastest cooling spots, and if you cool your toes, it will cool your whole body. You can use a cold damp towel wrapped around your feet, or you can throw some socks into the freezer for 10 minutes and then wear them to cool off.
PARASOLS OR UMBRELLAS: Naturally, we’d recommend one of ours, but in times like these, just use something! Ours are UPF 50+ and will block more of the sun’s harmful UV rays, but any umbrella will keep you cooler than carrying nothing.
HAND FANS: We also recommend our hand fans to keep you cool as well. This is our first year we’ve offered fans. Ours work very well. We are still tweaking the design, and will eventually hope to add a carrying case. But for now, these are pretty cool, in more ways than one. They will definitely help you stay comfortable this summer.
Keeping cool, using Lily-Lark parasols and hand fans in California
We hope these tips will keep you safer this season. We don’t know how long this heatwave will continue, but we urge everyone to take it seriously, and stay safe!