Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Staying Cool in a Hot World


By Sherry Gordon-Harris, Health Alliance

I’ve always been a fan of Motown, or the Motown sound, a style of rhythm and blues music named after the famous record company that originated in Detroit. One of my favorite Motown singers is Diana Ross. Some say I kind of look like her because of my big eyes. I even sang one of her songs, “I Will Survive,” in a company karaoke team-building activity.

Another one of my favorite Motown sounds came from the group Martha and the Vandellas. Their famous song “Heat Wave” was released in 1963. The lyrics of this song talked about a certain burning inside in the heart whenever nearby a certain gentleman. The burning was identified as a desire. But the questions were asked: “Could it be the devil in me? Or is this the way love’s supposed to be?”

The feeling was ultimately compared to a heat wave in the lyric “It’s like a heat wave burning in my heart.” This metaphor of a burning fire led to another question in the lyrics of this song: “Has high blood pressure got a hold on me?”

While this metaphor is talking about a crush or being in love, the physical effects of an actual heat wave can be dangerous. Everyone, especially older adults, children, and pets should take precautions against excessive heat during extremely high temperatures. Heat-related injuries such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and dehydration may develop with or without feelings of discomfort. So staying cool in the summer heat is a matter of paramount importance.

Here are a few tips to prevent heat-related injuries:

  • Try to stay cool, preferably in an air-conditioned area, and wear light-colored, loose clothing.
  • Limit outdoor activities and avoid vigorous physical activities in hot, humid weather.
  • Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar that cause loss of body fluids.
  • Check-in with family, friends, and neighbors who may be affected by extremely high heat.

Sometimes local senior centers or senior-focused organizations such as Senior Care Network conduct drives to distribute fans to senior citizens during the hottest summer months. There could also be several cooling centers in your local area such as:

  • Department of Human Services
  • County Health Department
  • Bus Transit Stations
  • Police Station

For more information on heat wave safety and cooling resources, call the Heart of Illinois United Way at (309) 999-4029 or visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/heat-wave-safety.html.

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She’s a wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and pageants.

Like this article? Feel free to respond to Outreach@HealthAlliance.org. Thanks for reading!