Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness
Summer heat waves can be dangerous. A very high body
temperature can damage the brain and other vital organs. Some health conditions
can make it harder for the body to stay cool in hot weather. These include old
age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn and
drug and alcohol use.
When temperatures are very high, make sure to:
Get Plenty to Drink
Sweating removes needed salt and minerals from the body.
When it is hot, drink more water, juice and sports drinks. Avoid drinks
with caffeine (tea, coffee, and cola) and alcohol. Be sure to eat regularly.
Stay Cool Indoors
best way to beat the heat is to stay in an air conditioned area. If you don’t
have an air conditioner, go to a shopping mall or public building for a few
hours. A cool shower or bath is also a good way to cool off.
Wear Light Clothing and
Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose
lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a
wide-brimmed hat will keep the head cool. If you will be in direct sun, use a
sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and follow package
directions. Reapply every 2 hours while in the sun.
Schedule Outdoor Activities
to be less active during the hottest part of the day, late afternoon. If you
must be out in the heat, plan your activities so that you are outdoors either
before noon or in the evening. While outdoors, rest often in a shady area.
Never leave kids or pets in a parked car.
you are not used to working or exercising in hot weather, start slowly and pick
up the pace gradually. Take frequent, regularly scheduled breaks. If activity in
the heat makes your heart pound or leaves you gasping for breath, stop activity,
get into a cool or shady area, and rest. Especially if you become lightheaded,
confused, weak or feel faint.
Use a Buddy System
During a heat wave, check on your friends and family
and have someone do the same for you. If you know someone who is elderly or has
a health condition, check on them twice a day during a heat wave. Watch for
signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. High temperatures can cause serious health problems.
Know the symptoms of heat-related illness and be ready to help.
Warning: If your doctor limits the amount of fluid
you drink, or if you take water pills, ask him or her how much you should drink
when the weather is hot. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor
before drinking a sports beverage.