The arrival of summer means pool days, outdoor sports, and backyard barbecues. While you’re planning your get-togethers for the next few months, make sure you're taking time to prepare you and your family for the potential of extreme heat.
Educate yourself on how to stay safe in the heat, who’s at the highest risk, how to prevent heat-related illnesses, and how to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or stroke.
Beat the heat this summer with these tips on how to stay cool!
Who is at risk of developing heat-related illnesses?
While everyone is at risk of developing a heat-related illness, certain people are more likely to experience problems in hot weather.
Infants, children, seniors, and athletes are more likely to have issues in hot weather. Other factors such as obesity, alcoholism, heart disease, and drug use may affect whether or not someone will have problems in the heat.
Heat Safety Tips
When the temperatures start to rise, it's important to stay hydrated and drink water before you even feel thirsty.
You'll also want to avoid drinks that are caffeinated, sugary, or contain alcohol, as these types of beverages will dehydrate you more quickly.
Make sure you have access to air conditioning
Before the warm weather arrives, test your AC unit to make sure it functions properly. If you don't have air conditioning, check to see that your fans are working to help you stay cool.
To keep your home cool, leave your blinds closed during the day and avoid using your stove or oven. If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting a place that does during the hottest part of the day for several hours to help your body stay cool. Public places like malls, libraries, or cafes are great places to escape the heat.
Check up on people
If you know someone who doesn't have air conditioning in extreme heat, be sure you check up on them to be certain they're safe, especially if this person is considered to have a greater risk of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Plan around the heat
If you see extreme heat in the forecast, consider planning or rescheduling your events around it. A baseball game during the afternoon of a hot day isn't ideal for anyone. Pay close attention to the local news and weather so you can be aware of potential heat advisories or warnings.
If you can't reschedule your activity for a different day, consider rescheduling the time of the outdoor activity to earlier in the day or later in the evening when temperatures are lower.
If you find yourself outside during high heat or the hottest part of the day, try to keep your activity to a minimum. Seek out areas that are cool or shady and limit activity to stay cool and prevent heat-related illnesses.
Wear sun protection and dress appropriately
To protect yourself from the sun, make sure you have ample sunscreen, a hat to cover your face and neck, and wear a thin layer of clothing to cover your skin.
When it comes to dressing for extreme heat, you'll want to wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing that is designed to be breathable.
Do NOT leave children or pets unattended in cars
A hot car can be very deadly for a child or pet. While your car may be cool from your drive to your destination, the temperature inside rises extremely quickly.
When it comes to extreme heat, don't forget about your pets! Check on them frequently to make sure they're not suffering; it’s critical that they have enough cool water, shade, and that they aren’t over-exerting themselves.
After spending too much time in the sun, red, irritated, and painful sunburn can occur. Symptoms include:
- Pink or red skin
- Skin that feels hot or warm to the touch
- Swelling, pain, or itching
- Headache, fever, nausea, or fatigue in severe cases
If your sunburn lasts for more than a few days or you experience extreme symptoms, seek the help of a medical provider.
Heat exhaustion happens when your body fails to cool itself and overheats due to dehydration, overactivity, and extreme heat. Symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Faintness, dizziness, fatigue, or nausea
- Rapid pulse
- Muscle cramps
What to do if you think someone is experiencing heat exhaustion:
- Stop activity
- Move to shade or cool indoors
- Drink chilled water and sports drinks
If the symptoms of heat exhaustion are ignored, the condition can progress into heat stroke. Once again, your body has failed to cool itself properly and, in this case, it's much more severe, as your body temperature rises to 104 degrees F or higher. Symptoms include:
- High body temperature of 104 degrees F or higher
- Abnormal behavior or mental state: confusion, slurred speech, delirium, seizures
- Change in sweat: skin may feel dry or lightly moist
- Rapid breathing
- Racing heartbeat
- Severe headache
What to do if you think someone is experiencing heat stroke:
- Heat stroke MUST be treated by a medical professional to prevent damage to the heart, brain, kidney, and muscles. Call 911 and take immediate action.
- Remove excess clothing
- Move the person to a shaded or cool area
- Cool them down with water, wet towels, ice, etc.
Stay safe this summer
If you'd like to learn more about how to keep your family safe from the heat and how to spot signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, schedule a visit with one of our providers. Don't forget to perform regular self-exams to spot early signs of skin cancer and address any questions or areas of concern at your appointment.