Too hot? Stay safe and cool this summer

If students don’t plan accordingly for a hot, sunny day, they’re putting themselves at risk for dehydration, sunburn and overheating among other things, said John Staley, assistant professor for the College of Public Health.

Staley said air conditioning is a critical protective factor against heat-related illness and death.

“The cost to run air conditioning can vary quite a bit for people, particularly those in larger homes,” Staley said.

For students concerned with the cost to run air conditioning, Staley suggests they set their thermostats between 70 and 74 degrees at all times.

“It’s actually more cost-efficient to keep your thermostat at a set temperature versus if you get hot, turning it way down to 65 degrees or less,” Staley said. “Cooling yourself down then pushing the temperature back up is actually going to cost you more in the long run.”

Senior advertising major Nathan Noll said that air conditioning is a valuable resource to him in the summer.

“My allergies become really bad during the summer,” Noll said. “Keeping my air conditioning on helps alleviate some of my allergy symptoms.”

It is also important to regularly apply sunscreen every couple hours during long periods of sun exposure, Staley said, particularly between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.

The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Staley suggests wearing a protective sunscreen and lip balm with a minimum of SPF 15. He said that it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy to prevent skin cancer and premature aging.

The CDC also recommends wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV rays and to reduce the risk of cataracts. Staley suggested purchasing a pair of sunglasses that block out both UVA and UVB rays.

As for clothing, light colors and natural fibers are a must for a hot, sunny day, Staley said. Dark colors and synthetic materials like polyester should be avoided.



• Air conditioning is the number one protector against heat-related illness and death. Keep your air conditioning set at around 74 degrees all the time to avoid high bills.

• Wear sunscreen, SPF lip balm and a hat to protect your skin, lips and face from getting burned.

• Clothing made from natural fibers and lighter colors will help keep you cool in the sunlight. Avoid dark colors and synthetic materials like polyester.

• Wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV rays. This reduces the risk of cataracts.

• If you know you’ll be outside for a long period of time, drink plenty of water. Six to eight cups per day is ideal.

• Check the weather forecast and heat indexes to fully prepare for a day in the sun.

• Be aware of your body. If you start to feel light headed or dizzy, drink some water, go inside or find some shade.

To avoid burning your face, ears and back of the neck, the CDC recommends wearing a hat. Hats with a wide brim made with tightly woven fabrics, such as canvas, work best to protect your skin from UV rays.

Students should also drink a minimum of six to eight cups of water if they are going to be outside for long periods of time, Staley said.

“When the cells in your body are properly hydrated, they work more efficiently,” he said. “When your body is hydrated, your cooling systems are going to work better.”

Water is the best liquid for staying hydrated, but vegetable and fruit juices work too, Stanley said. Students should avoid caffeinated drinks, drinks that are high in sugar and alcoholic beverages.

Students should also check local weather forecasts and heat indexes to prepare themselves accordingly to prevent overheating and dehydration, Staley said.

“Symptoms of overheating can happen to anyone at any time,” Staley said. “Be aware of your body and recognize when it’s time to get out of the heat.”

Contact safety reporter Brittany Macchiarola at [email protected].