When summer temperatures begin to climb, it’s important to take steps to stay healthy and comfortable in the heat. To that end, proper hydration is key. While there are no specific recommendations for how much water a person should drink, a good rule of thumb is to drink water regularly throughout the day. Many people get caught up in their daily activities and forget to drink enough water. Drinking at specific times each day can help. Good times for a water break include first thing in the morning, during meals, and right before bed. Eating foods with a high water content—like cucumbers, watermelon, and citrus fruits—may also help maintain good hydration.
On hot days, it’s easy to become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration range from uncomfortable to potentially dangerous, and it’s important to be able to recognize them. Mild dehydration symptoms may include headaches, dry skin, muscle cramps, and fatigue. More severe dehydration can lead to symptoms like fainting and rapid breathing. Urine color can also provide some insight into a person’s level of hydration. Light-colored urine indicates proper hydration, while dark urine could signal dehydration. Seeking shelter from the heat and drinking water should relieve dehydration symptoms.
When it comes to hydration, not all drinks are the same. A sugary soda with a caffeine kick may feel like it hits the spot on a hot day, but it actually has a dehydrating effect. The same goes for coffee and tea—even if they’re iced. Smoothies, milk-based drinks, and even cold beers are all dehydrating. It’s best to reach for water instead or drink extra water for each of these less thirst-quenching options.
Drinking plenty of water each day is critical to summer health, but it’s not the only thing to consider. It’s also important to keep cool. One way to do that is to wear appropriate clothing. During warm weather, this means wearing clothes that are light in color, loose-fitting, and lightweight. Hats add an extra layer of protection from the sun. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to arrange outdoor activities on days with cooler forecasts or during cooler times of the day. Spray bottles and shady spots can provide temporary relief during summer outings.