Health & Fitness

How you can use everyday items already in your home to beat the heat

Want to beat the heat wave? Weather Service provides plenty of tips

Brooke Bingaman of the the National Weather Service in Sacramento offers specific ways for valley residents to remain healthy and safe as a significant heat wave rolls through the region.
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Brooke Bingaman of the the National Weather Service in Sacramento offers specific ways for valley residents to remain healthy and safe as a significant heat wave rolls through the region.

Temperatures are soaring past 100 degrees again in the Sacramento region, but you can beat the heat with some gear you probably already own but just didn’t think of using for heat. Or, you can upgrade to a new-generation gadget such as the Spruzza misting system for your bicycle.

Accustomed to very little rain through summers in the Sacramento Valley, local residents typically stow away any umbrellas that survived the rain and rough winds of the region’s spring, but you might want to reconsider this seasonal ritual. In summer, doctors said, an umbrella can be used to block the infrared rays of the sun.

“It would be like standing in the shade, which in an environment like ours, can really reduce the temperature exposure that somebody gets,” said Dr. Ian Julie, an emergency room physician at the UC Davis Medical Center. “Even though you don’t see a lot of it around here, it’s not a bad strategy for dealing with hot-weather days.”

When using an umbrella as a sunshade, it’s often called a parasol, but parasols typically are smaller and more lightweight than the canopied devices used to protect people from rain. If you adopt a parasol for summer, be sure to choose one that is light in color: white or yellow. During the heat wave in June, The Bee measured temperatures under a parasol and in the sun. The thermometer under the umbrella registered temperatures that were 16 degrees cooler at noon and 26 degrees cooler at 3 p.m.

Ning Pan, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at UC Davis, has studied the physical properties of fibrous materials, including their heat transport. He explained that sunlight will be absorbed, reflected and passed through the surface of the umbrella. To shield from sunlight, he said, it’s best to maximize reflection.

“White light contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum,” he said. “So when we apply white color on the parasol surface, nearly all wavelengths in the sunlight have been reflected and very little absorbed or transmitted, making white the most reflective color. Black is the least reflective one.”

Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing also will help to reduce the impact of the sun’s heat. It’s important to note, however, that even if you use a parasol or wear light-colored clothing, you should still wear sunscreen. While the cloth blocks infrared heat, it doesn’t offer much protection from ultraviolet rays.

If you find yourself sweating, that’s a good thing, said Julie and Dr. Noel Hastings, an emergency-room physician at Sutter Medical Center. Just be sure you hydrate, so your body has enough water. As the sweat evaporates from your skin, they said, that process cools your top layer of skin, your blood and ultimately your body.

“Or, you can provide artificial sweat,” Hastings said. “A lot of the decks and restaurants in town have misters. Anything that lands just a very little bit of light moisture on your body, with a little breeze, like a swamp cooler, it’s a very good cooling mechanism for you. I see people with little spray bottles and misters. That decreases your body’s need to sweat because you’re providing that cooling already.”

To mist yourself at home or while out and about, you could use a clean spray bottle you already own. Or, you could purchase one of the newfangled misters from local stores. A number of the new misters integrate battery-powered fans into the spray nozzles, and they often come with lanyards that allow them to be carried around the wrist or neck.

Even cyclists can get this type of cooling relief these days, thanks to inventor David Carrozza. He introduced the Spruzza misting system three years ago during an Amgen Tour of California time trial event in Folsom, and it’s now sold in bike shops around the region. Carrozza has gained some pretty finicky customers, people such as Ironman competitor Aaron Hutchinson and pro cyclist Evan Huffman.

“When you hit that lever, and that water sprays you in the face, even though that water may be room temperature, it really does cool you down,” Hutchinson said. “It’s a huge sense of relief, like ‘Ahhh.’ 

Cyclists typically don’t want to add anything to their bikes that weigh a lot and will slow them down. When filled, Carrozza said, the Spruzza mist system weighs about 284 grams. Huffman described the weight as inconsequential on his training runs. The angle of the bottle can be adjusted, he noted, to keep the mist from hitting sunglasses, but even if it does hit them, it dries very quickly.

Huffman said he was pretty skeptical initially about adding the Spruzza system to his road bike. Instead, he borrowed one of the devices for a test run, Carrozza said, and when the inventor returned to check how it was going, he said Huffman told him: “ ‘You don’t want this back, do you?’ 

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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