Tuesday Tip: Keeping Safe in Extreme Heat

exheatThe Summer months are upon us and the temperature can reach dangerous levels. Here are some tips on how to stay safe in the sweltering heat.

  • Drink plenty of fluids regularly and often. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Drink at least two glasses (8-16 ounces each) of cool fluids each hour. Don’t drink alcohol or sugary beverages —these can cause you to lose more body fluid. Injury and death can occur from dehydration, which can happen quickly and be unnoticed until too late.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities. Get plenty of rest to allow your natural “cooling system” to work. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the early morning.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that will cover as much skin as possible. Put on sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher with UVA/UVB protection 30 minutes before going outside. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Replace salt and minerals. Heavy sweating removes the salt and minerals that are necessary for your body. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach more than 140°F (60°C) within minutes. Even with the windows cracked open, car interior temperatures can rise 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in minutes. When traveling with children, follow these rules:
    • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
    • When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.
  • Stay cool indoors. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, go to the mall or library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are heat-relief shelters in your area. Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering stress from the heat. Make sure they are indoors or in the shade. Provide plenty of water for drinking as well as for cooling the animals.
  • Monitor those at high risk. Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.
    • Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to keep them cool and provide adequate liquids.
    • People 65 years of age or older are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.
    • Overweight people may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
    • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.
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