Food and drink: stay cool, keep walkin’ and don’t drown 

The heat is on and so are you – with the right stuff

The heat is on - almost 10º C above the normal maximum day temperature and the night minimum - and it will be for the next while at Whistler and throughout the Lower Mainland. With temps and the humidex creeping up to levels more like Bangkok than the Coast Mountains, it's definitely time to keep your cool.

Suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke is no joke. In fact heat stroke, which occurs when your body has lost large amounts of salts and fluids and has an abnormally elevated temperature along with other physical and neurological symptoms, can be a life-threatening condition.

Even dehydration, which happens when your poor ol' bod simply doesn't have enough fluids to function properly, can make for dizziness, headaches, impaired physical and mental functioning, and more.

When you sweat a lot you lose both salts, or electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and chloride, that keep cells functioning normally, plus the water content in the fluid-filled spaces surrounding your cells. That includes your brain, ergo the headaches and tired feeling when you're dehydrated.

My dear mom ended up in emergency when my parents first moved to the Okanagan because she wasn't used to the southern interior's summer heat and dryness and ended up dehydrated after not drinking enough fluids.

Too much exertion under hot conditions at work or at play can bring on any of the above. And if you've travelled to the tropics and tried the local drinks with a pinch of salt, then you know that simply drinking any old liquid isn't enough to rehydrate.

I'm not talking about a tequila shooter or a salt-rimmed margarita here. Nor over-doing it in the liquid department since too much hydration can throw you out of whack, too. But if you get severely dehydrated, you'll need commercial powdered electrolytes or sports drinks to replace those salts along with the fluids.

God forbid, if you get heat exhaustion or heat stroke, you'll need medical attention - fast, in the case of the latter. And this isn't just in the case of the elderly, the frail or those with heart or lung conditions. The healthiest and the fittest can suffer equally from any of these heat-related conditions, including our four-legged friends.

A pleasant walk with our dog in a cool, shaded park last week turned into an upsetting experience when park attendants were called in to help one family's poor mutt who had collapsed due to heat exhaustion.

Of course, you know better than locking your dog - or any pet - in a car in the summer, even with the windows open, even for "a minute." The interior of a closed car can go from 25º C to 50º C in about 15 minutes.

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