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Heat hacks: How to stay cool without air conditioning

File photo from 2013. Mae Ryan/KPCC

Warning signs | Cooling centers | Pets

A heat wave is heading toward Los Angeles, with triple-digit temperatures expected to bear down on Southern California in the days to come. We've collected maps and links to cooling centers, along with tips to stay cool and protect yourself against heat-related illnesses.

Los Angeles County has issued an updated list of community cooling centers, and KPCC has curated some other stay-cool tips for air-conditionally challenged residents across the region. 

Below you'll find practical advice from health officials, local resources from safety professionals and questionable suggestions from formerly hot people. 

Do you have a dependable method for hacking your body temperature? Tell us via Twitter or leave a comment below. 

AND NOW, A WORD ABOUT DRINKING

In the face of tyrannical temperatures, it is essential to stay hydrated. Failing to drink enough water can result in a number of dangerous defeats, including, but not limited to, heat cramps, heat stroke and death

However, not all beverages are on your side. To make sure you're imbibing only allies, follow these basic guidelines:

Tip: Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water or electrolyte-replacements 

Tip: Drink cool water, not extremely cold water (which can cause cramps)

Tip: Avoid sweetened drinks, caffeine, alcohol

The CDC says that in extreme heat you must increase fluid intake regardless of your activity level. Eight to 10 glasses of water per day is advised. If engaging in "heavy exercise in a hot environment," they recommend drinking:

Two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids every hour.

SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Faintness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased thirst

MORE SEVERE SIGNS 

  • Diminished judgment
  • Disorientation
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)

HOW TO LOOK COOL

In times of excessive heat, authorities say to dress like you're on vacation. That includes:

  • Hat, preferably with a wide brim
  • Loose-fitting, light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and pants
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

WHERE IS THE CLOSEST COOLING CENTER? 

In L.A., Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, call 3-1-1 or call for a list cooling centers. In the city of Los Angeles, you can also find the list online. That's extra good news since Mayor Eric Garcetti announced extended cooling center hours from Sunday, August 27 through Wednesday, August 30.

Tip: Call the center in advance to make sure seating is available.

Tip: If the center you want is at capacity, or non-operational, head to a local, air conditioned library and cool off with a book about ice fishing in Antarctica.

Below is a map of cooling centers and splash pads/pools provided by L.A. County. You can also search the online directory to find the closest location.

 

A map of cooling centers provided by 2-1-1 Orange County:

For residents of Riverside County, the public health department has created this list to help you locate a cooling center near you.

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PROTECT A PET FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT

PROTECT A HUMAN FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT

Check in frequently with family, friends and neighbors. Offer assistance or rides to those who are sick or have limited access to transportation. And give extra attention to people most at risk, including: 

OTHER STAY COOL TIPS

This story has been updated and originally ran in 2013.