It seems we have officially entered the "dog days" of summer. We've suffered under scorching heat, the blazing sun, and sweltering temperatures from sunrise to sundown and the boiling weather can do far worse than just drive us toward the pool. Beat the heat and avoid serious complications by following a few simple hot weather safety tips.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Increase your fluid intake, regardless of the level of exercise, and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. Avoid alcoholic beverages and drinks that contain large amounts of sugar because these will cause you to lose more body fluid. Very cold drinks could cause cramps. A sports drink can help replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If your doctor generally limits your intake of fluids, ask how much you should drink in hot weather.
- Dress appropriately and wear sunscreen: Wear lighweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. When you go outside, wear a large brimmed hat and sunglasses as well as sunscreen SPF 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out and continue to reapply according to package directions.
- Limit outdoor activity: Try to limit your activity outdoors to early morning and late evening hours and rest often in shady areas. If you are exercising outdoors, start slowly and gradually pick up the pace. Stop all physical activity and rest in a cool or shady area immediately if you begin to feel lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.
- Stay cool indoors: Stay inside, in air-conditioning, if possible. If your home doesn't have air-conditioning, spend a couple of hours in a public library or shopping mall and call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in the area. Taking a cool shower or bath can also help keep you cool.
- Monitor those at risk:
- Watch infants and young children closely and never leave a child, infant or pet inside a parked vehicle.
- People 65 years of age or older may not sense changes in temperature as well and/or may not be able to adjust to the heat as efficiently.
- People who are overweight have a tendancy to retain more body heat and may be more prone to heat-related illness.
- People who over exert during work or exercise may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness.
- People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications such as for depression, insomnia or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two extremely serious side effects of prolonged exposure to the sun and high temperatures. Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature, and it can lead to death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. To prevent heat stroke, recognize the symptoms:
- very high body temperature (above 103 degrees)
- red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
- strong, rapid pulse
- severe headache
If you see someone experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 and move the person to a shady area. Keep the person cool by immersing them in cool water (or showering, spraying or sponging them with cool water), but do not give them fluids to drink.
To protect yourself against the effects of extreme heat, you may also want to wear a medical ID and ICE (in case of emergency) bracelet. Your identification bracelet should be engraved with your name, emergency contact information, and any medical conditions or serious allergies that you have. This information can assist medical personnel when they are treating you for heat stroke or any other medical emergency. An ICE ID is essential in hot weather, especially for those people at heightened risk for overheating. Visit www.LaurensHope.com and stay cool with one of our medical identification or ICE products!