5 Ways to Cool Down When It Heats Up

Learn how to reduce your risk of heat-related illness

Learn how to reduce your risk of heat-related illness

These tips can help you keep your cool when the temperature is rising. Heat waves can occur throughout the year in San Diego and are one of the primary causes of weather-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



1. Find air conditioning

“Air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death,” says Aleksandriya Demenko, MD, a family medicine specialist at Scripps Coastal Medical Center in Solana Beach. “When it’s scorching outside, stay cool by spending time in air-conditioned locations, such as the public libraries or your local café.”

2. Stay hydrated

Regardless of your activity level, increase your fluid intake during hot weather and don’t wait until you are thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks, which are dehydrating, as well as very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps.


“Watermelon is a great fruit when the temperature is hot as it has a high water content,” says Dr. Demenko.


3. Wear appropriate clothing

Many synthetic fabrics are designed to wick away sweat, or wear thin, light-colored, loose cotton clothing.


“Loose, billowy clothes help with evaporation by facilitating air movement next to the skin,” explains Dr. Demenko.


Also, kick off your shoes if possible and safe. When the sweat on your feet evaporates, the skin and blood in your feet cool down, and you feel cooler.


4. Limit outdoor activity

Schedule outdoor activities during early morning or evening hours and avoid the peak hours of the sun, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. When you are outside, wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses and don’t forget the sunscreen.


5. Know the symptoms of heat-related conditions

Recognize the warning signs of heat exhaustion:


  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting


“If you or anyone else has symptoms of heat exhaustion, immediately get out of the heat, preferably into air conditioning,” says Dr. Demenko. “Take a cool shower or bath and drink plenty of water. Fans or ice towels may also help.”


If the symptoms are severe or the affected individual has heart problems or high blood pressure, seek medical help immediately.


Heat stroke requires immediate emergency medical attention. Symptoms include:


  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Red, hot and dry skin with no sweating
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Throbbing headache


If you notice any of these signs, get medical assistance immediately. 


Check out our infographic to learn more about how to beat the heat. (PDF, 880 KB)