The hot summer temperatures are here. When you step outside you can immediately feel the humidity in the air and the heat from the sun. Although we can't completely avoid the summer heat, we can take precautions to stay safe and healthy through the hottest time of year.
There are many types of heat-related illnesses that can come about from being outside in the heat of the day. Some of those illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rashes. These illnesses can occur in anyone, especially to workers that are exposed to extreme heat as well as young individuals who might play an outdoor sport or activity during the summer. Anyone can suffer from a heat-related illness so it's important to take precautions to help prevent one of these from happening.
The most serious heat-related illness is heat stroke. According to www.cdc.gov, the symptoms of a heat stroke are hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, dizziness or confusion and slurred speech. If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms while out in the heat, it's important to seek medical attention immediately.
Heat exhaustion is another heat-related illness that occurs often during extreme temperatures. Symptoms of heat exhaustion described by www.cdc.gov include heavy sweating, extreme weakness or fatigue, nausea, dizziness, clammy moist skin, muscle cramps, or fast and shallow breathing. To treat someone experiencing heat exhaustion it's important to get them into a cool, shaded area or indoors into air-conditioning. Have them drink a lot of fluids, preferably water or a non-alcoholic beverage. Try to stay clear of alcohol as well as beverages with a lot of added sugar. Another suggestion is to have them take a cool shower or bath to help cool their body temperature.
The CDC has some great simple tips to help prevent a heat-related illness. Stay hydrated by drinking more fluids throughout the day. If you wait until you're thirsty to drink it's typically too late. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing that's loose fitting. Rest in shaded areas or indoors when possible. If you must work outdoors, work earlier in the morning or later in the evening if possible when temperatures are more tolerable. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses and wearing sunscreen.
Some people are more at risk of developing a heat-related illness so it's important to check on them more frequently. Those people include infants and young children, people over the age of 65, and those who are physically ill.
So, as we prepare ourselves for the next couple of months, use these precautions and tips to have a safe and healthy summer.
Sarah Sonis is program director for the Freeman Southwest Family YMCA.