Coping with the hot weather

Many area residents are thankful for the summer weather.

The cooler weather this spring was enough to make many people re-think their opinions of climate change.

This week is different. We’re experiencing some real summer heat and humidity, weather experts say.

However, when the thermometer hits the 90 degree range, and the relative humidity is 60 to 70 percent, tempers can flare.

According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Heat Index, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are possible.

Heat stress risk is likely with physical activity or prolonged exposure.

Hot weather can be as stressful for families as major problems such as illness or lack of money.

When the weather heats up, so can our tempers.

Hot weather depletes us physically, emotionally and mentally.

Tempers flare easily, nerves become frayed and patience runs out quickly.

We lack the stamina to deal with routine daily problems.

As our bodies become physiologically stressed, we may find our thought processes becoming muddled.

We don’t communicate well with people; and they don’t have the patience to listen well.

Spouses can get angry with each other over trivial issues, and parents and children can easily end up in shouting matches.

The next thing you know, you have a real-life version of “Cops” in your living room.

The first step in coping with this situation, experts say, is to realize what’s happening.

The second step is to make changes in your behavior and environment that will enable you to cope with the overheated situation.

Experts recommend that individuals make sure the physical environment is as comfortable as it can be, given the rise in temperature.

If you don’t have air conditioning, you can temporarily escape to an air-conditioned mall, library or movie theater.

This will help in the short run, but you will eventually have to come home.

Look around your house to see where a strategically placed fan will increase air flow. Lower blinds or shades against the morning and afternoon sun.

If you have a yard with trees, try moving out into the shade and breeze.

Additionally, make sure your clothing is comfortable, loose-fitting and made of natural fibers such as cotton which will absorb perspiration and wick it away from the skin.

Plan simple and light meals that don’t require heating up the kitchen.

Have plenty of cool fluids around for family members to drink, including ice water and fruit juices.

Give yourself permission to slow down.

Reducing your expectations and activity level may be the most important coping strategy you can employ.

It’s OK to put off vacuuming or doing laundry when it’s 89 degrees in the shade.

Try to adopt the tropical attitude of resting during the hottest part of the day.

Finally, try to keep your communication as simple as your clothing and meals.

This is not the time to find fault with your spouse or children or to initiate serious discussions.

Postpone making important decisions or having heavy discussions unless they’re absolutely necessary.

The hot weather will eventually pass and the issues can be addressed when the weather and tempers have cooled down.

Think of it this way – in a few months, we’ll be shoveling snow.