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Not only is today the longest day of the year, it’s shaping up to be one of the hottest. Heat can be a killer – especially for those over age 65, people with chronic medical conditions, and infants/children.

The No. 1 thing you can do to beat the heat is air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, plan to spend time in places that do – such as shopping malls, public libraries, movie theaters, etc.

Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages and increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.

People suffer heat-related illnesses when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself. Humidity interferes with sweat evaporation. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, prescription medications and drug/alcohol abuse also have an effect.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following tips to staying healthy in the heat:

   Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If you are on fluid restrictions, be sure to talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.

   Replace salt and minerals. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Again, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor.

   Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

   Schedule outdoor activities for the morning or evening, when it’s typically cooler.

   Pace yourself. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually.

   Stay cool indoors. If you don’t have air conditioning, seek places that do. A cool shower or bath can also help.

   Watch out for others, especially those who are at greater risk. Ask others to watch out for you.

   DO NOT leave children, the elderly, or pets in cars, even if the windows are cracked open. Temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees in just the first 10 minutes.

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