Know what you should and shouldn't do to beat the heat

What drinks and cooling techniques you should avoid

ROANOKE, Va. – On a hot summer day, Sarah Gearhart and her 6-year-old granddaughter, Taylor, do whatever it takes to stay cool.

"Ice cream and lots of water," Gearhart said.

Phil Gant has air conditioning in his home, but if he needs to go outside, he avoids the hottest parts of the day.

"Most of the people out here, they stay inside or come out in the evening or out in the morning," said Gant, who lives in Southeast Roanoke.

Temperatures are set to rise above 95 degrees and feel hotter than 100 degrees over the next few days, so health experts said there are certain things you should and shouldn't do to stay cool.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said children, the elderly and people who work outdoors are the most at risk for overheating.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.

Stay hydrated with water and avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks.

That's the same advice David Silbaugh got in the U.S. Army.

"Don't grab no sodas," Silbaugh said. "That's the worst thing you could do."

Health experts also said you should stay in air-conditioned buildings, like malls or libraries. If you can't leave your home or you don't have A/C, local Office on Aging President Ron Boyd said you need to be careful if you're only using a fan.

"It's just blowing in hotter air and it's just circulating that and that could lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke," Boyd said.

Health experts say take cold baths or showers and check on elderly relatives and neighbors often to make sure they're staying cool.

Gearhart said she'll check on her 84-year-old mother, neighbors and avoid the heat when she can.

"We come outside for just a little bit we start sweating," Gearhart said. "Drink plenty of ice water because it is hot, real hot."

At this point, no cooling shelters will be open during the heat wave in Roanoke, Blacksburg, Martinsville or Christiansburg.

The Salvation Army in Roanoke doesn't have an official cooling center open, but their doors are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday and Sunday morning if people need a place to cool off.

The community risk reduction specialist from Roanoke Fire-EMS, said people also need to look out for the signs of heat-related illness: nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches.

Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits, or loses consciousness, call 911 or the local emergency number immediately.

The Local Office on Aging offers fans and air-conditioning units to elderly residents who qualify, but they have a limited supply and need donations to be able to continue handing them out to people in need.

About the Author: