Ok folks a big, long, nasty hot spell is arriving as I type. The forecast puts us above 90 degrees every day in the next week. Here are some requests, suggestions and miscellaneous tips to help you survive the swelter.
Please, please, please stay hydrated this coming week. Dehydration can lead to all kinds of nasty things ranging from feeling rotten, to preterm labor, to death. Yep. I am not exaggerating -this is serious stuff. You simply have to stay hydrated, and avoid over-taxing your body during a severe heat spell.
Think this doesn’t apply to you because you have central air (and a huge generator so power outages don’t affect you)? Think again. If it is 100 degrees outside, even if you are cozy and comfortable in an 68 degree air conditioned space, you still need extra hydration. Air conditioners work by dehydrating the air. Dry air mean dry you. ACs keep you cool, but you still need extra fluid intake. Really.
Think about what you drink and eat to maximize hydration especially during a severe heat spell. And get your home and car and office stocked. (Note: It does no good to ‘plan’ on drinking plain water if you simply will not drink plain water. If this sounds like you, make pots of tea for icing, get lemons in the house for squeezing into your water, buy a case of seltzer. Whatever. Do it!)
How much is enough?
I want you to drink enough that your mouth and lips are moist, and your toilet water looks clear after peeing. (TMI? Sorry. Really.)
What to drink?
Water. Plain old water is da bomb for hydrating!
Other drinks -tea, coffee, seltzer. (No, tea and coffee are not dehydrating. If that is what you will drink, drink it!)
What to eat?
Watery foods -cold soup, cucumbers, watermelon, sweet peppers, green salads…
Popsicles -buy or make your own
Ice -plain or flavored
When to drink?
All the time. Morning, noon, night. Also, DO NOT leave home without a filled water bottle. (What if the traffic is bad, or the car or bus breaks down? When the heat is super high, things often do not go as planned.)
Sweating means losing fluid and salt. If you are craving salty things, you might need some more sodium in your diet. Chips, pickles, crackers, fries may not be the most nutritious foods but in moderation, they may be what you need. For drinks, you can spend your money on electrolyte drinks, or you can put a small pinch of salt and sugar and a squeeze of lemon into your glass, fill with water, stir well, add ice and sip.
With a serious heat spell, the power grid is going to be challenged. Be prepared for outages. At our house, it means that we have several large containers filled with drinking water, a couple more for flushing (toilets don’t work without a working well and ours is electric), all the ice cube trays filled, several water bottles in the freezer, and a big pot of Sun Tea going. What in you home is dependent on electricity?
Water from the well?
Will you need a generator? How about fuel for said generator?
And of course, if you don’t have to use electricity, don’t. This is a great week to skip the dryer and hang your clothes out to dry. Do electrically demanding jobs (like running the washing machine, and dish washer) in the late evening or early morning to decrease the strain on the power grid.
Shade is important when it is this hot. Draw the shades in your home. Head to the shady side of the street. When waiting for the bus, duck under awnings or into a storefront. Park your car in the shade or in the garage. Wear a wide brimmed hat. Even carrying an umbrella can help you find a spot of shade.
Be ready for your infant, baby or toddler to either want to nurse ALL THE TIME, or go on a nursing strike. Do you have patience stored up? If not, search around for extra, you’ll need it! Do you have a stash of toddler tempting fluids (water with a splash of juice, popsicles, smoothies..) If not, stock up now. Do you have a breast pump handy in case you become engorged? Do you have a manual pump in case the electricity goes out? If you wind up with a sore, reddened, painful breast and a temp of 101, call your midwife ASAP.
The pregnant body is a fluid filled wonder. And when it becomes dehydrated, it can be a nightmare -cramps, contractions, constipation… Let’s skip all that, ok? Hydrate well. Eat watery, light foods, stay cool, always travel with a water bottle and a light snack, stay inside at least from 11 AM to 3 PM. And remember that air conditioning is also dehydrating.
Heat and Hydration Life-Hacks
- Fill bottles and other water tight containers 3/4 full with water. Place in freezer. This decreases empty space in the freezer making it more efficient, and the extra ice will make the food in the freezer stay cold a bit longer when the power goes out (and it will go out this week). Also, it gives you fresh, cool water for sipping later, or taking with you when you leave home for errands.
- Consider making a big pot of Red Raspberry Leaf or Mint Tea. And what a great week for Sun tea -just put water and herbs, fruit, edible flowers in a glass jug or pitcher and set in the sun for a few hours. Tah dah! Sun Tea is yours.
- Air conditioner not working or you don’t have one? Take a towel, wet it, wring it out and hang in front of a working fan. Not as good as AC but it helps. Also, wet your face, shoulders and arms down with a damp cloth and sit in front of an oscillating fan. Nice….
- Is the electricity out and the fans are not working? Take a place of paper, fold lengthwise in 1 inch accordion pleats, make a handle at the bottom. Repeat. Make enough for everyone in your house to have two. Take turns getting fanned by the whole household. (Or at least fan your own sweaty face).
- First thing in the morning and last thing at night, run your fans facing into the house -suck the cooler air into your dwelling. Then in the morning, after running the fans, SHUT THE WINDOWS, DRAW THE SHADES. Get the cooler air into your home and keep it there.
- Like iced coffee or tea? When you make a pot of either, pour the extra into ice cube trays and freeze. Next time you want a cold beverage, add these cubes to your glass of coffee or tea.
- Lemonade ice cubes! Fabulous in plain water. (And even better in cocktails!)
- Breast milk ice cubes -yep. the ice cube tray works for human milk as well. And the size can be perfect for a fussy little one during a heat induced nursing strike.
- Put a kiddy pool in a shady spot, fill with water. Now grab a book, a glass of iced tea and sit right in that pool and read. Kids joining you in the pool -grab a chair to sit on with your feet in the pool. (I did a prenatal home visit one time during 99 degree weather. We chatted, checked blood pressure and listened to the baby-to-be all while sitting outside with our feet in the kiddie pool.
- Cooking -grill outside, use your InstaPot for cooking corn on the cob or potatoes for potato salad, make Gazpacho or other cold soups, have salads with protein on top (Salade Nicoise, Taco Salad, Beet with Chèvre and Walnuts…). And of course, treat yourself to a leisurely meal in an air-conditioned restaurant.
- What tips and tricks do you have?
May all babies be born into loving hands