When you think about injury and death that is caused by the weather, you most likely think about weather events that are violent and that make headlines. What you may not realize is that extreme heat waves actually cause more injuries and deaths each year than any other type of weather does. Those who are most at risk in the heat are babies, the elderly and those who are sick or who have chronic health concerns. If you fall into one of these categories or care for someone who does, there are several steps that you can take to stay safe, cool and out of the emergency room.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is typically the first problem that you will experience in the summer heat. It can often occur without notice because you may be too busy or active to stop for a drink of water. Plus, non-water drinks, such as those that contain alcohol or caffeine, are often enjoyed out-of-doors, but can exacerbate dehydration. Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much water through sweating or other means. You may feel faint, dizzy or nauseated or have a headache.
What Is Heat Exhaustion?
If you do not rehydrate yourself quickly, heat exhaustion may be the next step in this dangerous cycle. With heat exhaustion, your entire body becomes too hot. Your pulse may become faster, you will sweat profusely and you may even have muscle cramps or vomiting.
What is a Heat Stroke?
Without appropriate care, heat stroke may occur next. This situation is even more dangerous and occurs when your body temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher. Without immediate medical care, this condition can damage your heart, brain or kidneys. Heat stroke is sometimes referred to as a sunstroke.
How Can You Prevent These Hot Weather Issues?
Thankfully, all three of these problems can be prevented by taking some simple steps and by treating dehydration symptoms as soon as they appear. Here are a few tips that will help you this summer.
–Drink more water than usual when in a hot building or outdoors. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty.
-Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, which is usually between 10 AM and 2 PM.
-Try to be in an air-conditioned building when the heat index is high. If your home is not air-conditioned, see if you can stay with a friend, or go to the mall.
-Choose lightweight clothing that breathes, such as cotton.
-Take a cool shower.
-Get medical help immediately if you notice any heat-related symptoms.
Always be aware of the temperature as well as the heat index during the summer so that you and your loved ones can stay healthy. By taking simple steps to stay cool during the day, to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and to recognize the symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, you will be well-prepared to have a great summer despite what the thermometer reads.