Heat accounts for the most weather related deaths in the United States. Although we have been lucky enough to have cool summer temperatures this season, these next few days are calling for temperatures of close to 100 degrees. And if you’re like me, you love seeing that big yellow sun on the weekly forecast, but its important you don’t let the sun get the best of you. I had an experience myself with minor heat exhaustion.
A few weeks ago, on a particularly hot Friday, I did the normal college student summer routine, which doesn’t include much but working out and relaxing outdoors. I started my new summer job later that evening and didn’t take into consideration the long hours spent in the sun mixed with working on my feet could end in heat exhaustion. As a result I became dizzy, weak, and even sick for the next couple of days. Now I know there are many things I could have done to prevent this.
In the heat, the first and most important step is to stay cool. Although this may seem obvious, it is crucial to prevent heat cramps, exhaustion and even stroke. Wear lightweight clothing and stay indoors with an air conditioner when possible. Plan strenuous outdoor activities like lawn care or exercising for the coolest parts of the day.
The next tip is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated fluids if possible. Be sure to eat small meals and snack more often to keep your energy levels up. If you have access, go to the pool or beach for the day to cool off. If you do choose to spend long hours outside, use proper sun protection for your skin and reapply as you sweat or go in the water. This is important even if you don’t burn easily. Ultra violent rays are dangerous to all skin types.
Also, check in frequently on small children and pets, as they are more susceptible to heat stroke. Be sure they have the proper amount of shade and fluids and never leave your pet in the car on a hot day even if it is just for a few minutes.
For more on how you can be prepared and what you should do during a heat wave look at our checklist and be Red Cross ready.