WHENEVER IT'S hazy, hot and humid outside, newspapers across the country offer "Tips for Beating the Heat," apparently as a service to their more dim-witted readers.
This is something I could never understand. There is no question that the mental acuity of most citizens has plunged dramatically over the past 20 years or so. But are people really so stupid that they actually have to be told to drink fluids when it's hot?
Yet that is always the first tip offered for beating the heat: Drink plenty of fluids. If people really need this advice, perhaps they also need detailed instructions on how to obtain such fluids, which we might as well provide here:
1. Go to kitchen sink.
2. Turn on cold water.
3. Fill glass.
5. Repeat frequently.
Let's see . . . what are some other tips we've been seeing lately?
Avoid strenuous exercise in the middle of the day, that's one you always see.
Wear light, loose-fitting clothing. Stay inside where it's cooler. Don't have your 85-year-old grandmother lugging your weights down from the attic -- at least not until the sun goes down.
Pretty standard stuff, it seems to me. But then, scanning the newspaper the other day, I came upon this bizarre Tip for Beating the Heat: "If a person loses consciousness during outdoor activities . . . seek medical help."
In other words, don't let that person just lie there crumpled on the volleyball court with chunks of gravel embedded in his or her face while you play on.
Call a doctor. Maybe he can figure out why this person keeps passing out during a simple game of six-on-six in 95-degree heat.
(Incidently, with much of the country in the grip of blistering weather, this might be a good time to kick around the theory of global warming.
(Lets see now. We've got over 5 billion people on the planet. Auto emission levels have never been higher. Industrial pollutants spew unchecked into the atmosphere. Fluorocarbons seep into the ozone with alarming regularity. And in the midst of all this, it seems to be getting hotter from Boston to Beijing. Hmmmm.
(Nah, probably nothing to it. Sorry I brought the whole thing up.)
In any event, since everyone else is offering Tips for Beating the Heat, let me climb on board with a few of my own:
* If your house has air-conditioning, you might want to turn it on.
* Despite justifiable pride in your father's career as a World War II Navy frogman, it's probably not a good idea to walk around in his old diving bell and pressure suit when the temperature reaches 90 degrees.
* If, while playing tennis, you find yourself sweating profusely, reeling about in circles and babbling something about carrying Andre Agassi's love child, it might be best to sit in the shade for a few minutes.
* When returning to your car -- which has been baking in the parking lot for several hours while you shopped in the mall -- open the windows and wait outside for a few moments. It's probably real warm in there.
* Sitting in front of a fan is an ideal way to beat the heat.
* Four simple words: Stay away from corduroy.
* If the temperature climbs to 100 and your neighbor asks you to help blacktop his driveway, the answer that makes the most sense is: "No."
* Beaches, lakes and swimming pools are generally better places to be when it's hot than, say, loading docks, UPS trucks and the inside of a Dumpster.
* Getting back to your 85-year-old grandmother, I wouldn't have her unloading cinder blocks from your pickup truck in this weather, either.
* If you're working on a highway construction crew and sense you're about to pass out, let go of your shovel and throw your arms in front of your face as you pitch forward, thereby cushioning your fall.
* When you come to, ask your supervisor if you can stagger over to the shade of the underpass until you regain your senses.
* When your body temperature is stabilized, ask if you can be the flagman for the rest of the afternoon.
* Did I mention you should drink plenty of fluids? I should mention that.