Stay safe during summer heat

Published 10:53 am Monday, July 10, 2023

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Almost overnight, our weather has turned from pleasant moderate temperatures to oppressive heat and humidity. No more sleeping with the window open! Because it’s easy to overdo it in this heat, I wanted to offer tips on how to stay cool.

When we think of summer, our minds go to outdoor activities, relaxing and soaking up some vitamin D! But too much time in the heat of a 90-degree day can lead to hazards such as sunburn, bug bites, heat stroke, and dehydration. 

WATCH THE RAYS: Plan your time outside when the sun’s rays are less extreme — before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Sun exposure during the day’s heat can sneak up on you quickly, leading to heat exhaustion or worse. If you start to feel dizzy, overly sweaty, and get the chills, these are signs you’re overheating. Go indoors ASAP.

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STAY HYDRATED: You can’t drink enough water on a hot day. Dehydration can make you feel tired or dizzy. In addition to water, a good snack includes foods like peaches, watermelon, and cucumbers.

DRESS LIGHTLY: Light, loose-fitting cotton fabrics help keep your skin cooler. Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses to help shade your face and eyes.

PICK THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN: You want a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Put sunscreen on at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours (more often if you’re swimming or sweating).

BE MEDICATION MINDFUL: Some medications can make you sensitive to sunlight, causing you to burn quickly. Some diabetes medications, statins, and even some popular over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and several antihistamines can increase your risk of sunburn. Ask your primary care provider for more information about your medications and their side effects.

In hot weather, your body’s cooling mechanism is sweating. The evaporation of your sweat you’re your skin regulates your body temperature. But when you overexert in hot, humid weather, your body cannot cool itself, resulting in heat cramps or worse. 

Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat sickness. Symptoms of heat cramps often include heavy sweating, fatigue, extreme thirst, and muscle cramps. Recognizing the onset of these symptoms and seeking treatment may prevent heat cramps from progressing to more-serious heat illnesses.

Drinking fluids that have electrolytes (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) can help reduce heat cramps. Other treatment for heat includes getting into cooler temperatures and resting.

Heat exhaustion left untreated can lead to life-threatening conditions like heatstroke. Heatstroke happens when your core body temperature reaches 104F. Heatstroke needs immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage to your brain and other vital organs. Heatstroke can kill you!

Those at increased risk include children under four, older adults over sixty-five, those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, and people who carry extra weight.

Contact your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve within one hour.

So, as you head outdoors for the summer, remember, “Be cool and stay cool.”

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