It’s no secret that the summer heat can be brutal. While infants, the elderly and those with health conditions are most at risk for negative effects, even the young and healthy can be impacted. Keep the following in mind to stay safe and healthy this season.
7 Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy in the Heat of Summer
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, like water or beverages with electrolytes. If you’re working outdoors, take a drink every 15 minutes or so, even if you’re not thirsty, and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing to stay cool and protect your skin. Avoid dark colors – they absorb the sun’s rays, increasing body temperature.
- Stay inside and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day, typically between 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Take frequent breaks if working outdoors. If an indoor or otherwise cool climate is not available, try to find a bit of shade.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, spend much of their time alone, or are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on your outdoor pets frequently; they can suffer from heat illnesses, too. Make sure they have plenty of cool water, and remember: if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for theirs.
- Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat illness, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch affected muscles as needed, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool – not cold – water every 15 minutes
While most symptoms of heat illness are minor and can be treated with the above methods, some are more serious. If you notice any of the following, seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 and following the dispatcher’s instructions:
- Body temperature above 103 degrees
- Skin that is dry and hot to touch, indicating that sweating has stopped
- Rapid breathing
- Confused or irrational behavior
- Convulsions or unresponsiveness
Summer Can Be Too HOT
Hot summer weather can pose special health risks to anyone exposed but is particularly dangerous to older adults. Abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure of the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body to deal with the heat coming from the environment can look like; heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after prolonged exposure to the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Risk for these conditions can increase with the combination of outside temperature, general health and individual lifestyle.
When you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:
- Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned or other cool place. Urge them to lie down.
- Call 911 if you suspect a heat stroke
- Encourage the individual to shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water.
- If necessary pour water on them, apply cold, wet cloth to their wrists, neck, armpits, and groin.
- If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water, fruit and vegetable juices, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.