Extreme heat reading guide: Health tips, staying cool how-to's and more

A man outside takes a drink from a plastic bottle.
Tyler Amucha takes a break from skateboarding to hydrate at Shaw Skate Park in Washington, D.C., on June 19. Much of the Northeast is experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures in the high 90s. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

“Hot enough out there for you?” Ask anyone in the Northern Hemisphere that question right now and you’re bound to get a resounding “yes!” in response. Thursday’s summer solstice means summer has officially begun, but much of the country has already been dealing with sizzling temperatures for weeks now.

🏃🏽‍♀️ Catch up quickly

Earlier this week, the National Weather Service warned of “dangerous and long duration heat” across the Midwest and Northeast, while Rio Grande Village, Texas, earned the distinction of being the hottest place in the U.S. As a heat dome and extreme heat take hold, practicing heat safety and finding ways to stay cool have taken on new urgency. Here’s what to know.

🥇 Where to start

  • Check the weather in your area: Just type in your zip code [Yahoo Weather]

  • Read it all: U.S. heat wave [Yahoo]

🌡️ Just how hot is it?

  • Stay up to date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched a Heat & Health Tracker that monitors heat risk, rates of heat-related emergency room visits and more. [CDC]

  • How the heat dome is affecting Americans right now. More than 100 million Americans are under heat advisories and are expected to experience 90-plus-degree days for two weeks. Hospitals are already seeing the effects. [USA Today]

  • So … what is a heat dome? Confused about how a heat dome is different from a heat wave? In a nutshell, a heat dome refers to high atmospheric pressure causing hot ocean air to be trapped over a particular area, whereas a heat wave refers to what’s happening on the ground. [Yahoo News]

  • Extreme heat is a global issue too. High temperatures are taking a toll abroad, prompting health alerts in a number of countries and causing hundreds of fatalities in Saudi Arabia. [Reuters]

  • Is climate change to blame? Yes, according to scientists who say that extreme heat will become more common and intense if humans continue to release toxic emissions into the atmosphere. “Our climate is heating to dangerous levels,” one researcher says. [USA Today]

  • Nights are also warming up faster than days. Evenings no longer bring a respite from the heat, climate scientists warn. That’s bad news for our sleep. [The Equation]

🩺 How heat impacts your health

  • Why heat illness is a serious issue — and what to do if you’re experiencing symptoms. Last year saw nearly 120,000 heat-related emergency room visits, most of which took place between the months of May and September. It’s important to know the signs of heat illness, from heat cramps (pain or spasms in the arms, abdomen or legs) to heat exhaustion (headache, dizziness, nausea and weakness) to potentially fatal heat stroke (confusion, high body temperature, seizures). Learn more here. [Yahoo Life]

  • Don’t overlook dark skin. Heat rash — pimples or small blisters that appear in clusters — can present differently on darker skin tones. [Verywell Health]

  • How extreme heat affects the body. Sweating is just one of the ways in which our bodies respond to heat. The groups more vulnerable to extreme heat include children, older adults and pregnant people, among others. [Yahoo Life]

  • Be extra vigilant if you take certain medications. Antidepressants, diuretics and beta blockers are among the medications that can make you more vulnerable to heat illness because they affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature through sweating. [Prevention]

  • How heat kills. Heat can be fatal because it puts strain on the heart and causes dehydration, while sharp increases in body temperature can lead to organ failure as the body fights to cool itself down, experts explain. [Associated Press]

  • Don’t forget about your mental health. Feeling cranky about the weather? You’re not alone. Irritability, agitation and anxiety are common responses to heat, which is also associated with an uptick in crime and suicide. [USA Today]

🧊 What can I do about it?

  • Where to keep cool. Cooling centers, superstores, movie theaters and other places to go when you want to avoid the heat. [Yahoo Life]

  • How to find a cooling station near you. The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) has a handy resource for cooling centers — typically public libraries, senior centers and Salvation Army outposts — in each state. [NCHH]

  • Exercise with caution. If the weather isn’t putting you off your daily run, at least follow these best practices to avoid overheating. [Today]

  • Should mall walking be your summer workout? They’re air-conditioned, they’re free (ish) and they’ve got plenty of space to roam. If you want to get your 10,000 steps in without the sun beating down on you, get thee to a galleria. [Yahoo Life]

  • Stay hydrated. Keep that water bottle full, and make sure you’re not ignoring the signs of dehydration. [Yahoo Life]

  • What you drink matters. Electrolyte drinks — in moderation — can be more replenishing than standard water on days when you’re spending a lot of time in the heat or working out in the sun. [Washington Post]

  • Be careful around booze. It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re drinking alcohol in the sun — which can spell disaster if you’re near water. Read this before your next pool party or lake day. [Yahoo Life]

  • And your caffeine. Too much iced coffee (or tea, energy drinks or any other caffeinated beverages) can actually work against you if you’re not drinking enough water. The caffeine stimulates movement in the body, which warms the body up and makes you feel hotter, not refreshed. [Washington Post]

  • Cool down your car … Sun shades, air recirculation and the right outfit can help your auto feel less oppressive on a hot summer day. [WJW]

  • … and your home. Can you keep your house cool without running up your electricity bill? The Pioneer Woman has some handy hacks. [Pioneer Woman]

🧑🏼‍🍼 I’m a parent. What else should I know?

  • Why kids are more vulnerable to extreme heat. Kids struggle to regulate their body temperature, which is why health experts recommend making an effort to keep them safe while outside on a hot day. Start by avoiding going out during peak heat hours, making sure they’re drinking enough water and keeping them away from scorching-hot playground equipment. [Yahoo Life]

  • Babies need extra care too. Here’s how to protect infants on hot days and recognize the signs of heat illness. [Today]

🐾 What about my pet?

  • Expert advice. The Humane Society’s recommendations for keeping animals safe during hot weather cover everything from outdoor exercise to recognizing the signs of heat stroke in your pet. [The Humane Society]

  • The deal on dog walking. Sizzling sidewalks equal scorched paws. Here’s how to handle walks during extreme heat. [Louisville Courier Journal]

  • What a dog owner says. A dog mom shares how she’s making sure her golden retriever is hydrated this summer. [Pet Helpful]