How to stay cool during summer’s relentless heat wave

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(Gray News) - A good bit of the country is under an oppressive heat wave from now until Friday.

The National Weather Service issued excessive heat watches and warnings for the Midwest, Plains and parts of the East Coast.

And with the high temperatures comes an increased risk of heat-related illnesses.

Here are some ways to stay cool:

  • Stay inside. Try to plan indoor activities during the heat of the day. UV rays are the strongest and most harmful during midday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Outdoor activities that involve direct sunlight should be avoided during the hottest parts of the day. If this isn’t possible, then seek shade under a tree, an umbrella or a pop-up tent.
  • Protect your skin. Both adults and children need protection from UV rays. Use sunscreen whenever outside.
  • Because it’s summer, most folks grab tank tops and shorts to feel cooler. The CDC suggests covering up a bit with long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts to provide protection from UV rays. Make sure the clothing is lightweight and light in color.
  • Wear a hat. But don’t just put on any hat: Make sure you wear one that provides shade to your face, scalp, ears and neck.
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  • Protect the eyes from UV rays, which can cause cataracts later on in life, by wearing sunglasses.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator or cooler for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
  • Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. Once it melts, you will have cold drinking water at your fingertips.
  • Take baths or showers as often as you like, but with cool water.
  • Put a wet bandanna or washcloth in the freezer. Put it on the back of your neck to help keep you cool.
  • Hydrate to win. Drink plenty of water, and stay away from anything with caffeine (sodas, coffee, energy drinks) or alcohol. Those beverages cause dehydration.
  • Check on your neighbors or family members who are senior citizens.
  • Don’t leave your pets or children outside, and never leave them unattended in a vehicle.

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