This has been a record setting year for temperatures across much of the country. Weeks on end of 100+ degree temperatures have left landscapes scorched and have resulted in numerous fatalities, namely among the elderly. Just last year there were 138 total heat related deaths and this year's number could be much higher.
Active families don't let the heat stop them from enjoying Summer, but precautions must be taken to safeguard your family from the heat.
According to the University of Texas at Dallas' Tom Monagan, an associate athletic director there, you must acclimate yourself to the heat. "If not, you’re asking for problems. Most heat-related illnesses occur within the first few days of working out outside because the body isn’t used to the heat."
The heat makes us exponentially more susceptible to dehydration. Our body quickly uses up our internal supply of water in order to attempt to regulate our temperature.
Here are some life-saving tips from the CDC for those who have decided to brave the heat.
- Keep hydrated. This means cool, non-alcoholic beverages, since alcohol dehydrates you further. Don't wait to drink until you're thirsty. At that point you're already dehydrated.
- Wear light-weight and light-colored clothing. Dark colors attract and absorb light, so opt instead for white cotton or linen fabrics. Natural fabrics "breathe" more than synthetic.
- Avoid strenuous activities. Each year we hear of the tragic deaths of athletes who have died from exercising in extreme heats..
- Remain indoors, preferably in air-conditioning, during the heat of the day. If you don't have AC at home, then visit a public place that is cooled, such as the mall or library.
- Have elderly adults and those on prescription meds talk to their doctors about recommended daily water intake. The elderly are unable to adjust as quickly to the heat as their younger counterparts and may also be on a list of prescription meds that keep the body from regulating temperature.
- Take cold showers or baths
You also need to know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. You may just save the life of someone you love.
Heat exhaustion is typically characterized by heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, fainting, cool and moist skin, fast and weak pulse, and fast and shallow breathing.
Even more severe is a heat stroke. The CDC reports that signs and symptoms of a heat stroke include:
- An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
- Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Throbbing headache
If you have identified any of these symptoms, then you need to take action. Begin by accessing if medical attention is needed. Call 911 or go to the Emergency Room. In the meantime you need to cool the person down as fast as possible. Have them shower or bathe in cold water or, as the CDC recommends, spray them with a garden hose if you don't access to a bathroom. Be sure you remove them from direct sunlight and have them sit in a shaded area. Monitor their temperature until help arrives.
Arming yourself with knowledge about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness is a must when the temperatures continue to soar.