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The Healthy: How to Stay Safe During a Heat Wave

The Healthy, a Reader's Digest publication, recently interviewed emergency medicine physician Sam Torbati, MD, co-chair and medical director of the Ruth and Harry Roman Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai, about how to stay safe during a heat wave.

"Our body has the ability to acclimate to a number of environmental stresses, including heat, cold, and altitude, but it needs time," Torbati told The Healthy. "The faster the change in environmental conditions, the higher the risk of becoming ill." 

Older adults are the most vulnerable to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, as they are less able to tolerate temperature swings. As our body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, our organs start to malfunction. That's why, Torbati said, it's important to help seniors keep cool.

"Remember to check in on older adults to make sure they’re okay," Torbati told The Healthy. “Don’t assume they’re just resting. Their lack of interaction may be due to heat illness."

Torbati offered tips for staying cool using common household items when air conditioning is not an option. For example, he recommended putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan.

"As the ice melts, the fan’s breeze distributes the vapor, giving you a cool breeze,” Torbati told The Healthy.

If you don't have electricity, additional options include:

  • Filling a spray bottle with cold water for a cool mist throughout the day.
  • Soaking feet in cold water.
  • Wearing lightweight cotton clothing.

Just like you would prepare for other emergencies, Torbati said, you need to prepare for a heat wave.

Click here to read the complete story from The Healthy.