Tips On How to Protect Yourself in the Summer Heat
The temperatures are scorching, it’s humid and the air conditioning
won’t stop running. Wait, we’ve been waiting for this all
year long—summer, that is! If you’re not careful, summer’s
heat can sneak up on you and can be dangerous to your health. The best
defense for summer heat is prevention. Follow these helpful tips from
Dr. M. Jay Petruska at CaroMont Family Medicine-Belmont to keep you and
your loved ones happy and healthy this summer!
Regardless of your activity level, you need to drink lots of fluids. Minimize
your intake of alcohol and beverages that are carbonated or contain caffeine
when temperatures are high, as they can cause you to lose more fluid and
can lead to dehydration. Common signs that you are dehydrated are: dry
mouth, fatigue, decreased urine output, urine that is darker than normal,
headache, dry skin and dizziness. If you experience any combination of
these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Getting overheated can be serious in any situation, especially during summer
when temperatures are up in the triple digits. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion
are particularly threatening to people who work outdoors, young children
and older adults. If you’re able, stay indoors where it’s
cooler and air conditioned. If you don’t have air conditioning,
go to a shopping center or public space to keep your body cool even if
it’s only for a few hours.
If you can’t avoid being outdoors, seek shaded areas. Limit your
outdoor activity to morning and evening hours and if you’re exercising
outside, drink plenty of fluids (2-4 glasses of non-alcoholic beverages
every hour). Some sports drinks are good and can help to replace the salt
and minerals you lose when you sweat, but talk to your doctor first, particularly
if you’re on a low-salt diet.
Wear Protective Gear
It’s never a good idea to forgo sunscreen if you’re planning
to be outside—no matter your skin type. Direct exposure to the sun
can be harmful, especially during the middle part of the day. Wear sunscreen
that contains an SPF of 15 or higher and opt for lotions that are labeled
“broad spectrum” or UVA/UVB protection.” For added protection,
wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.
It’s also best to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to
Watch Out for Each Other
Anyone can suffer from a heat-related illness, but some people are more
vulnerable. Older adults, children and those who already have a medical
illness, especially people with heart disease or high blood pressure,
are at a greater risk for heat-related illness. Make a point to make extra
visits (twice a day) to see older adults if they’re living alone
to watch for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion. Children require more
Never leave anyone in a parked car during periods of high summer heat, and this
includes animals. During hot weather, heat build-up in a closed or nearly
closed car happens quickly and intensely to temperatures over 120 degrees.
Children and pets can die from heat stroke in a matter of minutes when
left in a closed car.