How to handle the extreme heat

The Boston area is expecting a heat wave over the next few days, with high humidity and temperatures in the 90s. While parking a chair in front of the air conditioner and curling up all day with a good book sounds pretty awesome, there are ways to beat the heat when you’re out and about. We asked John Wong, director of clinical services at University Health and Counseling Services, to offer some tips to keep cool and how to spot heat-related health issues early on.

What to watch for

Wong says that some early warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are a fast heartbeat, muscle cramps, vomiting, and an overall sense that your body feels warmer than usual.

Some symptoms that potentially indicate more serious concerns, he says, include feeling confused, having trouble thinking clearly, and hallucinating. Overheating of the body can also result in seizures. If you’re feeling weak or passing out, find a place to sit down as soon as possible. And follow the tips below to help deal with these issues.

Tips to beat the heat

First, Wong says, make sure to keep hydrated throughout the day. He suggests drinking a glass of water every two or three hours. If you’re exercising, he advises doing so before noon and making sure to hydrate beforehand. Eating fruits with high water content, such as peaches, oranges, and nectarines, is also helpful.

Other tips: If you’re outside for an extended period, move into the shade. Take a cool shower. Splash your face with water or put an ice pack or cool cloth on the back of your neck or underarms. And wear loose, lightweight clothing.

What to avoid: Drinks with caffeine and alcohol and foods with high salt content can lead to dehydration.

UHCS resources

Students can go to University Health and Counseling Services if they feel like they need care. UHCS is located in the Forsyth Building on the first floor and is open on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. UHCS is closed on Saturdays and Sundays until move-in weekend. Wong says that when UHCS is closed, it recommends students seek care at a local emergency department at local hospitals such as Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, and Brigham & Women’s Hospital.