Fresno is hot — really hot. 

The daily temperature hit triple digits every day but one between July 11 and Aug. 3. Temperatures topped out at a high of 110 degrees on July 17, according to the National Weather Service. Aug. 1 cooled off slightly to a high of 98.

When it gets hot in Fresno, people try to keep cool by going to a pool, going to a water park, heading up to the lake or over to the Central Coast for cool ocean breezes. Those who can’t go far look for relief in air-conditioned movie theaters, malls or other public spaces. The City of Fresno has cooling centers open for those who don’t have air conditioning.  

But what happens when you can’t escape the heat?

Exposure to high heat can cause a person’s body temperature to rise rapidly, resulting in exhaustion and cramps, dizziness, seizure and coma, headaches and heavy sweating, according to the California Department of Public Health

But the biggest threat to a person’s health can be heat stroke, which could lead to death, said Dr. Scott Sailor, professor of kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State. He has several years of experience working with football athletes during the summer months.  

Heat stroke can cause damage to the kidneys, liver and other organs. If any person is showing such symptoms, call 911 or cool them in a cold-water bath or shower, Sailor said.    

If people are working or participating in outdoor activities in the heat, they should take a break every 10-15 minutes, depending on the intensity of the activity, to get out of the sun and drink water to stay hydrated. If exhausted, find somewhere that has shade to cool down, Sailor said. 

To stay safe during the summer heat, Sailor has six tips to keep hydrated and cool from the hot weather.  

  1. Drink a lot of fluid. Sailor recommends drinking eight cups of cool water or sports drinks a day. If you don’t like either of those, then drink something that is water-based like cold green tea or fruit drinks. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or hot drinks as well as sugary fluids. 
  2. Eat food high in water content. Eating is a great way to stay hydrated with food that has water in it like fruits and vegetables. “It is making sure you’re consuming food that also helps contribute to your hydration. It’s not all just about drinking water or drinking electrolytes,” Sailor said. One might consider weighing oneself to see if there is noticeable weight loss during a streak of hot days. “For example, if you’ve weighed yourself one day and the next day you come in and you’re three or four pounds lighter, it probably tells you that you need to consume almost three or four pounds of fluid of some sort to maintain your hydration level,” he said. 
  3. Wear light clothes. Having light-colored clothes, or short-sleeve shirts, helps to cool off from the heat. Heavy, dark clothes can cause one to absorb light, which causes one to heat up more. Those who work outside may want to wear long sleeves and pants made of cotton or a fabric that breathes. Fabrics like this allow the sweat that builds to evaporate and cool us off, Sailor said.
  4. Go outside in the morning or at night. The best time to go outside is in the morning or at night because it is cooler. If planning to participate in outdoor activities or working outside, adjust daily for the heat, Sailor said. “Over a period of a week or two, we need to spend more and more time out in the heat,” Sailor said. “Once we do that, then our body will be prepared for the heat.” But people need to pace themselves and take a break if it is too hot. 
  5. Go somewhere that has air conditioning. Being inside can help people cool off from the heat with air conditioning. Those who don’t have air conditioning can go to a cooling center. The City of Fresno, the City of Clovis and other municipalities have many locations. When getting into a hot car, open the windows for a few minutes first. Turn on the air conditioning with the windows open so the hot air can escape. Close the windows after the hot air is let out. Sailor recommends parking in the shade and putting up a shield in the front window, so the car won’t get too hot. 
  6. Have a buddy. Have a buddy system to look after each other when active in the heat. Sailor said the buddy system is great for those who work outside or participate in outdoor activities. Check on each other. If you notice any signs of heat issues like dizziness, stumbling or confusion, get out of the heat and call 911. 

(Written by Ramon Castaños, University Communications student intern)