Tips for Summer: Keep Cool

This is promising to be a hot dry summer. We’ve already had scorching daytime temps and expect it to get hotter. We northern iglooers don’t normally worry about too much heat, but this year, be ware. Heat stroke is serious and can be life-threatening.

Keep your cool.

Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather:

What is too hot?

A healthy human body maintains a temperature of about 37°C (98.6°F). When your body temperature rises, heat is released through increased sweating and blood flow to the skin. This allows your body to cool and return to its normal temperature. Heat-related illness occurs when your body is unable to properly cool itself in hot outdoor or indoor environments, or during intense physical activity. When your core temperature rise above 40 C or 104 F and the body can’t regulate isn’t temperature, it is serious. When the body fails to regulate its own temperature and it continues to rise, often to 105°F (40.6°C) or higher it is Heatstroke. It is a medical emergency. Even with immediate treatment, it can be life-threatening or cause serious long-term problems.  It can happen very fast. A fever is very different though it is also dangerous at those temps.

Being in a hot environment can make your body temperature go up. Examples of hot environments include the inside of a car or a tent on a hot day, the upper floors of a house on a sunny day, a hot tub or sauna, and heat from direct sunlight outdoors. Never leave a person or an animal in a vehicle, even with open windows in the heat.

Heat-related illnesses can also occur in your workplace if a hot environment is created by equipment or enclosed spaces. Examples include: bakeries, kitchens, laundries, boiler rooms, foundries and smelting operations, mines, and certain manufacturing plants.

What are the symptoms of heat-related illness?

The symptoms of heat-related illness can range from mild to severe.

  • pale, cool, moist skin;
  • heavy sweating;
  • muscle cramps;
  • rash;
  • swelling, especially hands and feet;
  • fatigue and weakness;
  • dizziness and/or fainting;
  • headache;
  • nausea and/or vomiting;
  • fever, particularly a core body temperature of 40° C (104° F) or more;
  • confusion and decreased mental alertness;
  • hallucinations;
  • red, hot, dry skin (in the late stages of heat stroke);
  • seizures; and
  • Unconsciousness/coma.

Hot temperatures can be dangerous especially if you have heart problems and breathing difficulties.

How to prevent heat related illnesses

  • Seek air conditioned buildings (malls, offices, public buildings) if your home is unusually hot.
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply organic sunscreen if a uniform prevents appropriate clothing
  • Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and a broad brimmed hat that shades the face and ears.

If you participate on a sports team that practices during hot weather protect yourself and look out for your teammates:

  • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.

What Should I do for mild heat-related illness?

When recognized early most mild heat-related illnesses can be treated at home.

Note that mild heat exhaustion does not cause changes in mental alertness. Consult a health care provider about changes in mental alertness in someone who has been in the heat, has been exercising, or working in the heat.

Home treatment for mild heat exhaustion may include:

  • moving to a cooler environment and using cool wet cl0thes;
  • drinking plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids;
  • resting;
  • taking a cool shower or bath; and
  • wearing lightweight clothing.

If your symptoms last longer than 1 hour, change, worsen, or cause you concern, contact a health care provider.

Seek medical care immediately if you experience symptoms of more severe symptoms of heat-related illness. Heat-related illness can lead to weakness, disorientation, and exhaustion. In severe cases, it can lead to heat stroke, also known as sunstroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. The effects of heat are made worse if you do not drink enough water to stay hydrated. Remember that pop, energy drinks, coffee and sweet drinks all dehydrate the body. Drink water.

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