Are you prepared to beat the heat this summer?

A dog panting in front of a fan.

If you suspect that summers have become hotter, you’re not wrong. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Annual 2022 Global Climate Report, North America’s yearly temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit since 1910, with the average rate of increase twice as great since 1981. And this summer’s forecast is showing to be hotter than normal…again.

That means it’s important for all of us to stay comfortable and healthy over the next few months. To that end, here are some easy ways to stay cool and beat the summer heat.

Stay well hydrated

Drink lots of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. Try to avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration.

Keep the shades down

Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day to prevent the sun from shining through the windows and heating up your rooms. Once the sun sets and the temps go down, you can open the windows to bring in a breeze.

Use air conditioning or fans

If you have access to air conditioning, use it to cool down your indoor space. If you don’t have an air conditioner, make use of fans to circulate air and create a cooling effect.

Dress loose and light

Wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. This helps allow air circulation and minimizes heat absorption.

Stay in the shade

When you’re outdoors, seek shade as much as possible. Trees, umbrellas or canopies can provide relief from direct sunlight and lower the ambient temperature around you. When little shade is available, try to have a good wide-brimmed sun hat on hand to keep the sun from overheating your head and burning your face.

Take cool showers or baths

A cool shower or bath can help lower your body temperature and provide immediate relief from the heat. Don’t go for a cold shower, though; your body will try to warm you back up again, which can leave you feeling even hotter.

Spritz yourself

Just as our perspiration is hard-wired to do, a light spritz of water on your face and other exposed skin will help cool your body as the water evaporates. Carry a small spray bottle with you or check out a handheld spritzer/fan combo for the ultimate cool-off.

Use cold compresses or ice packs

Wet a washcloth or hand towel with cold water and place it on your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists for some cool relief. You can also fill a bag with ice and use it in the same places (but make sure to place a dry towel between the ice and your skin).

Avoid exertion during peak heat

You can still exercise in summer—but try to limit your most intense physical activity to cooler parts of the day, like early morning or evening when temperatures are lower. If you need to be active during the hottest part of the day, take frequent breaks, drink lots of water and listen to your body.

Eat light and fresh

Forego the heavy meals with lots of fat for lighter meals that are easy to digest and include plenty of fruits, vegetables and salads. Not only do these foods have high water content to keep you hydrated, but you won’t have to turn on the oven and heat up your kitchen.

Plan indoor activities

When the heat is unbearable, visit air-conditioned malls, museums, movie theaters or libraries. If your home is cool enough, you can also enjoy indoor hobbies or relaxing activities like reading, watching movies or playing board games.

Use sunscreen—always

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF (30 or higher), which will help prevent sunburn and keep your skin healthy. And if you burn easily, don’t forget the sun hat and protective clothing!

Remember, it’s as important to prioritize your health and safety during the hot summer months as it is during cold weather time. If you experience symptoms of heat-related illness, like dizziness, nausea, headache or rapid heartbeat, immediately find some shade, drink water and consult a medical professional if needed. And keep a vigilant eye on children and older family members, who are more at risk because their bodies don’t adapt to the heat or register discomfort as easily.

You can enjoy the hot, sunny summer weather—just make sure you do it safely!