With summer bringing the heat, everyone needs to know how to stay cool. Whether you’re in the best shape of your life, or you’ve been on 65+ trips around the sun. Here are a few helpful tips from the CDC on how to take care of yourself during a heat wave!
- There were an estimated 7,415 deaths due to heat-related circumstances from 1999 to 2010.
- The CDC states that these heat-related deaths are preventable, if you following these simple precautions.
You need to make sure to:
- Stay cool. Even if that means stopping what you are doing and finding a spot to cool off slowly. If you cool off to quickly, you could send your body into shock from a sudden temperature change.
- Remain hydrated with water or a sports drink that offers electrolytes. You will need to replace the electrolytes in your body to help cool off and reset your system.
- Stay informed with your areas weather and temperature forecast. If you know that it is going to be an extremely hot day, it would be best to be prepared.
- Have a cold non-alcoholic beverage handy.
- Have a cool towel near to help your body cool off.
- Try to stay in a shaded area, if at all possible.
- If you feel that you are going to be sick due to the heat, stop what you are doing and contact your doctor for help.
There are two main factors that have an effect on you when it comes to extreme heat:
- High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
- Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.
There are four main groups that are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses. It is best to monitor these groups of people when they are in your care:
- People who are of the age 65 or older.
- Children under the age of two years-old.
- People with a chronic disease.
- People with a mental illness.
Some simple questions to ask them, or make sure of for them are:
- Are they drinking enough water?
- Do they have access to air conditioning?
- Do they need help keeping cool?
Some precautions for not only people at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses, but anyone who will be in the extreme heat are:
- Find an air-conditioned building. If your home is without air-conditioning, stay in public facilities as much as possible. If your vehicle has air-conditioner, use it as much as possible.
- Do not only rely on a fan as your primary cooling option. A fan only distributes the hot air to keep it moving, and it is not a source of cool air.
- Drink as much water as possible, not only when you feel thirsty.
- Find a “Heat Wave Buddy”. Check in on your buddy, and have them check in on you. Use each other to make sure that you both make it through the extreme heat without a heat-related illness.
- Try to keep from using the stove or oven in your house to cook. It will only cause you and your house to stay warmer, and not allow anything to cool off.
Even if you are young, healthy and in the best shape of your life, you still run a risk of suffering from a heat-related illness. If at all possible, try not to participate in strenuous physical activities during extreme heat.
- Try to stay inside during midday when the temperature is the highest. If it is not possible for you to stay indoors, try to keep your physical activities to a minimum.
- Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen handy, and also reapply as recommended.
- When participating in activities, start slow. Gradually allow yourself to become accustomed to the heat before going full force into an activity.
- Drink PLENTY of water / sports drinks throughout the day, even if you are not thirsty at the time. A lack of hydration can lead to muscle cramping, and that may be an early sign of a heat-related illness.
- Make sure to dress appropriate for the activities you are participating in. Wear loose-fitting clothing that is lightweight and light-colored.
If you play a summer sport, make sure to protect yourself and keep an eye on teammates. If possible:
- Try to have practices or workouts during the cooler parts of the day. Early morning or later in the afternoon are better choices than midday.
- Use the “Heat Wave Buddy” system between you and your teammates. Keep each other safe and in line with the safety precautions.
- Make contact with a doctor or medical provider if you or a teammate has any symptoms of a heat-related illness.
- There is a CDC course that can help you look for signs of heat-related illnesses.
Here are a few steps, from the CDC, that are good for any and everyone to keep in mind to keep safe in the extreme heat:
- Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
- Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
- Pace yourself.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Never leave children or pets in cars.
- Check the local news for health and safety updates.