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Tips for Beating the Heat in Westport

Some basic tips for staying cool on a "triple H" day.

It’s going to be a scorcher in Westport today: the National Weather Service is calling for a high of 87 degrees (F)––while other weather services are predicting temperatures as high as 92 degrees (F), which could possibly break historic records. Making things worse is that humidity is expected to reach 78 percent, making for a classic “triple H” (hazy, hot and humid) summer day (and it’s not officially summer yet).

The hot and humid weather has prompted both federal and state environmental officials to issue air quality warnings for the state. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued air quality warnings for coastal communities, including Westport, as smog levels are expected to increase to above healthy levels. In addition the state Department of Environmental Protection is forecasting that the ozone level in the state today will be moderate to unhealthy for those with air quality sensitivities.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who is gainfully employed in an air-conditioned office, you will largely be spared from these conditions – but if you’re one of the many workers who must work out-of-doors, or if you’re just running around doing errands today, you had better be prepared to deal with the heat. Here are some tips to help you stay cool:

  1. Stay hydrated: Remember that plain old water is the best thing to drink when it’s hot. Sweetened drinks such as fruit juice and soda do not hydrate your body as well because the added ingredients prevent absorption. Avoid caffeine or alcohol as these can dehydrate you further. How much water should you drink each day in the heat? Recommendations vary, but a good general guideline is to divide your body weight (in pounds) by two – and that’s the minimum number of liquid ounces of water you should drink throughout the course of a hot day. So, if you’re a male weighing 200 pounds, you should be drinking at least 100 ounces of plain water a day. That’s 6.25 glasses of water, at 16 ounces per glass.
  2. Stay in the air conditioning if you have it: If you don’t have air conditioning at home or office, then seek out places that do have it, such as the , , the or any of the many shops, stores and restaurants around town. You could also head over the and check out the 2011 SOLOS exhibition, featuring the works of local artists.
  3. Head out on the water: At this time of year, water temperatures are still relatively low, thus water bodies such as the and Long Island Sound have a significant cooling effect on air temps. If you have a friend with a boat or know someone who lives on or near the water, this might be a good day to hang out with them. You could go to Sherwood Island State Park and chill by the water’s edge – or you could rent a kayak from the new Downunder store on Riverside Ave. and chill out on the cool waters of the Saugatuck for a couple hours. Just remember that coastal temperatures almost always tend to be lower than inland temps.
  4. Find moving air: If you don’t have air conditioning in your house (many people simply haven’t installed their air conditioners yet), make use of electric fans, including ceiling fans, as much as possible. Remember that the main cause of dehydration is sweating: The less you sweat, the cooler you will be, and keeping air moving across your skin is the number one way to prevent sweat. You can cool yourself even more effectively by donning a wet T-shirt soaked in cold water (re-soak as needed). Remember to close your blinds and keep the sunlight out wherever possible – and that the ground floor of your house is almost always going to be cooler than the upper floors. Another basic option: Take a nice long cold bath.
  5. Remember that your pets are at risk too: One of the most common mistakes dog owners make at this time of year is leaving their pets in their parked cars while they run around and do errands. The heat can quickly build to deadly levels in your car, basically asphyxiating your pet, so it might be best to leave your dog at home if you have to go out. Other pets -- such as hamsters and guinea pigs -- can also be in danger in the heat so you might want to consider moving them to cooler parts of your house as well.

Tomorrow isn’t looking any better – according to the National Weather Service, the heat will only get worse, with a predicted high of 91 degrees (F) in Westport and humidity hovering around 60 percent. In addition there is a chance of some thundershowers. Temperatures are expected to cool down by Saturday, which is predicted to be mostly cloudy with a high of around 70 degrees (F).

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