What you should never ever do in a heat wave

A heat wave has blanketed several parts of the country recently, and now it’s affecting the West. More than 25 million people in California, Nevada, and Arizona are under excessive heat watches, warnings, or advisories.

The National Weather Service is encouraging people in Los Angeles to be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and to try to stay cool as much as possible.

The American Red Cross has a list of things people should do to be safe during a heat wave, including obvious recommendations, such as drinking plenty of fluids, staying indoors, wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothing, avoiding strenuous exercise outside during the hottest part of the day, and taking frequent breaks if you work outside. But some of its other advice is a little confusing. Among other things, the Red Cross says it’s important to follow these guidelines in a heat wave:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.

These aren’t arbitrary recommendations, health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics and can promote fluid loss, further exacerbating your chances of dehydration,” she says. Smaller meals may be better than larger meals during a heat wave because larger meals take longer to digest and could generate excess heat in your body, Wider explains.

RELATED: Creative ways to drink more water 

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10 ways you can drink more water
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10 ways you can drink more water

1. Add flavor

Spa water, anyone? 

If you're not about that plain water life, simply cut up some fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs and add it to a jug of ice water. Some of our favorite additions include lemon, cucumber, strawberries and basil. 

2. Keep a bottle of water near you at all times

Sometimes, you just forget! But if you keep a glass or bottle of water in many places, it'll be a constant reminder to hydrate. We like to keep one in the car, at our desks, on our nightstands and so on. 

3. Try SodaStream

According to a recent survey, SodaStream drinkers drink 43% more water than consumers who don't own a machine. Forget store-bought bottles and opt for this convenient, eco-friendly and affordable magical machine. We're a big fan. 

SodaStream Power Metal Sparkling Water Maker Starter Kit, White, $133.99

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4. Opt for the one-to-one rule.

Drinking? No problem. We're big enthusiasts of this rule. For every drink you have, supplement it with one glass of water. Shots included!  

5. Download a water tracking app.

Track your water consumption with your phone. Apps like Hydro Coach and Water Time Pro can offer in-depth statistics on your water drinking habits. Whether you're drinking teas or eating a lot of healthy fruits, these apps take your diet and exercise into account. 

6. And with that said, eat your water! 

Fruits and vegetables are not only packed with great nutrients, but more water than you probably realize. Here's a breakdown of some of our favorites. 

  • Watermelon: 92% water
  • Tomatoes: 94% water
  • Peppers: 94% water
  • Celery: 96% water
  • Cucumber: 96% water

7. Invest in a water filter

You might be more inclined to drink water if it's from a crisp, cold pitcher. Especially if you're not a fan of tap water, the Brita helps clean out murky different tastes coming from the faucet! 

Brita 10 Cup Everyday Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, BPA Free, White, $36.30

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8. Drink a glass before every meal

Get yourself into a routine to drink a glass of water before every meal. And then continue drinking! It'll also fill you up. 

9. Invest in a nice water bottle

If you spend a little cash on it, hopefully you're more inclined to use it, right? And you'll want to show it off! We're loving these adorable bottles from Swell, like this one that's also insulated.

It's worth every penny.  

S'well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Double Wall, 17 oz, Turquoise Blue, $35.00

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10. Set goals for yourself

Now, with that snazzy new water bottle, grab a role of tape and measure out how much water you'll want to have had before a set time! And stick to it. 

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As for avoiding extreme temperature changes, there is some evidence that going from very hot to very cold temperatures can put stress on the body and cause dry eyes, respiratory issues, and muscle spasms, especially in people who are sick or have compromised immune systems, Wider says. That sounds hard to do when you’re moving from scorching temperatures outside to air conditioning indoors, but Wider says setting your thermostat to 75 degrees or so will help (and it may also keep your AC from being too taxed in the heat).

Since it’s unlikely that people are going to give up their daily cup of coffee, change up their eating habits due to the weather, and keep from rushing into air conditioning when it’s sweltering outside, exactly how important are these unusual tips? They’re helpful but not crucial for the average person who doesn’t have an underlying illness, Wider says.

In general, it’s really important to try to limit your exposure to extreme heat, stay well hydrated, and avoid exercising outdoors in a heat wave, Brian Schulz, MD, sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “When you’re exercising, you’re also elevating your body temperature,” he explains. “Your body already has a harder time controlling its temperature when it’s hot outside.”

RELATED: Heat wave hits the northeast 

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Heat wave rocks northeast ahead of July 4
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Heat wave rocks northeast ahead of July 4
A man cools off in fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway during a summer heat wave in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Members of the Iron Workers local 7 work on a new building during a summer heat wave in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A Construction crew works on a new building during a summer heat wave in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
People sit in the shade and cool off in a fountain during a summer heat wave in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
NEW YORK, July 2, 2018 -- People cool themselves at a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York City, the United States, on July 2, 2018. The highest temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius in New York City on Monday as a result of a prolonged heat wave. (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, July 2, 2018 -- People cool themselves at a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York City, the United States, on July 2, 2018. The highest temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius in New York City on Monday as a result of a prolonged heat wave. (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, July 2, 2018 -- Pet dogs cool themselves at a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York City, the United States, on July 2, 2018. The highest temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius in New York City on Monday as a result of a prolonged heat wave. (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, July 2, 2018 -- A boy cools himself at a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York City, the United States, on July 2, 2018. The highest temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius in New York City on Monday as a result of a prolonged heat wave. (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 1: Pedestrians cross a shimmering Pennsylvania Avenue as temperatures soar into the 90's on July, 01, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A woman walks along the beach at Brighton Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: Men play a game of volleyball at Brighton Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People cool off along the boardwalk at Brighton Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People cool off along the boardwalk at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A man walks along the boardwalk at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People cool off along the boardwalk at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A man rests in the sand at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: Children play in the surf at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: Children play in the surf at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: Children play in the surf at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People cool off along the boardwalk at Coney Island on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A surfer rides a wave at Rockaway Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People wait in line for food at Rockaway Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A surf board sits for sale at Rockaway Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People cool off by the ocean at Rockaway Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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It’s important to look out for early signs of heat exhaustion, such as dry mouth, stopping sweating when you should be sweating, getting chills, and feeling exhausted or fatigued, Schulz says. If you have any of those, you need to drink plenty of fluids and get indoors immediately.

Common sense is important, and using it during a heat wave should keep you safe. “Just don’t take these precautions lightly,” Wider says. “Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen to anyone.”

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