Heat Stress and Safety
As the temperatures rise, the dangers of heat stroke and heat-related injuries and deaths become a concern. The best way to survive oppressively hot days is to stay indoors and in air conditioning when possible. However, if you must go out into the sweltering heat, here are some free safety precautions you can take.
Food and Drink
One of the best ways for your body to handle the heat is to feed it right. In the heat, you sweat, and you need to replenish the fluids lost. Therefore, the best way to survive heat is to drink a lot of fluids. Of course, not all fluids are created equally, so you should drink water first and foremost. Water most easily replenishes your lost fluids, but when in a pinch, sports drinks can also help you stay hydrated and cool. Some drinks, however, dehydrate the body and should be avoided. They include:
- Carbonated beverages
- Caffeinated beverages
- Sugary drinks like juices and sodas
Food also differs quite a bit in the way it is broken down by the body. Where some fluids dehydrate, some foods make your body work harder to process, which increases your body temperature. Ice cream, for example, is harder for your body to break down than popsicles. This is because the fat in ice cream is harder to digest than the sugar in popsicles, although sugars are also not recommended. To be safe, both sugars and fats should be avoided in heat. On a different note, avoiding salty foods can keep you from becoming dehydrated.
Sun, Activity and Clothing
Some other hot-weather tips address the harmful effects of the sun and heat. When possible, stay out of the sun if you must be outdoors. Find a shady spot to sit, and do not overexert yourself. This means that any strenuous activities like running, biking and lawn care should be avoided. As for how you clothe yourself while you sit, you should wear loose fitting, light colored clothing so you can sweat freely and will reflect the sun’s rays.
Heat Related Illnesses
If you happen to drink the wrong fluids, eat the wrong foods or play in the sun, you are highly susceptible to sunburns, heat stroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Let’s look at each of these heat related illnesses so you know the symptoms.
- Sunburn symptoms: Pink or red painful skin is common, but severe cases can cause swelling, blisters, fever and headache.
- Heatstroke/sunstroke: Skin is hot and dry to the touch, the heart beats rapidly, body temperature reaches 41 degrees Celsius or higher, and the person may be unconscious.
- Heat cramps: Painful spasms in the legs or abdomen accompanied by profuse sweating.
- Heat exhaustion: Skin is cold, pale and clammy, accompanied by heavy sweating, weakness, weak pulse, fainting and vomiting symptoms.
Summer is often the most pleasant time of the year, but many dangers can exist in the heat of summer activities. However, taking precautions in any heat, but especially in extreme temperatures, can help keep you safe in the summer months.