How to Beat the Heat

Article excerpt

Byline: Kent Sepkowitz

Dress like a bedouin. Not Kate Upton.

It's been a brutal summer. Last month three thousand new high-temperature records were set in the U.S., then the early dog days of July knocked out power for millions on the East Coast. Heat waves kill more people in the U.S. than any other weather phenomenon, including tornadoes and hurricanes, and they're only going to get worse. The CDC projects that by mid-century, global warming could increase the annual number of heat-related deaths in the U.S. from several hundred to the thousands.

Given how serious severe heat can be, one would think more people would embrace expert advice on staying safe. Yet many of the best recommendations run counter to our ordinary habits. For example, we are advised to do nothing, nothing at all, except find a cool comfortable place and sit tight till the heat wave passes. That is, be lazy. Mom would be appalled.

Then there's confusion about what to drink. Sports drinks-those candy-colored concoctions of salt, sugar, and water-have a powerful foothold in the sweat-means-guzzle exercise market, but they don't add much of anything useful. The CDC and other experts are fine with tap water, since so much food has the necessary salt and minerals. The point is to drink a lot of anything, as long as it is not alcoholic.

Most surprising, though, is the advice on what to wear. …