Hot summers can be deadly in the US. Each year, hundreds of people suffer fatal heat-related illnesses and millions more are affected by the heat in a way that makes everyday life difficult and uncomfortable. When high temperatures are combined with high humidity, serious problems can occur. Don’t make heat mistakes this summer. Here’s how to protect yourself from excessive summer heat.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
High temperatures make it more difficult for your body to naturally cool itself. You also lose a lot of salts through sweat, which can cause health problems. Older adults, young children, and people with chronic health problems are more at risk of heat illness but anyone can suffer. Here are the most critical ways heat can affect your health:
- Heat cramps. When you suffer from heat cramps you endure painful muscle spasms in your legs or your abdomen, which can be relieved by massage and by cooling the body down. Heat cramps occur when you have been exercising in the excessive heat.
- Heat exhaustion. In the case of heat exhaustion, you experience heavy sweating and cool, clammy skin, weakness and dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and fainting. If you are suffering from heat exhaustion then rest in a cool place, and cool the skin with cold cloths.
- Heat stroke. When a person is suffering from heat stroke they experience confusion, disorientation, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse and shallow breathing, and an extremely high temperature. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 as the condition can be quickly fatal. While waiting for medical help, move the person into a cool room and cool the skin with wet cloths. Do not give fluids.
How to Prevent Heat-Related Illness
In order to stay healthy and happy in the heat, slow down and do not attempt to do too much. In particular, schedule any difficult tasks for later in the day when it is cooler and avoid the sun when you are outside. Spend some time in an air-conditioned room, and drink plenty of water. Keep your fluid levels up even when you do not feel thirsty. Wear loose cotton clothes and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when you are outside. If you suffer any symptoms of heat illness, rest in a cool place and monitor your body temperature.