While we all know just how much fun it is to bask in the sun and enjoy the warm summer weather, spending too much time in the heat can be dangerous to your health. To keep everyone healthy and safe this summer, it’s important to first recognize the warning signs of heat exhaustion so that it doesn’t have a chance to turn into heatstroke, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
Know the Signs
Worried about heatstroke? Here’s what to look for:
- Rising body temperature of over 104 F
- Skin that is dry instead of sweaty
- Shallow or fast breathing
- Racing heart
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion, irritability, or delirium
Seeing a Doctor
If you or a loved one ever experiences these symptoms, you must seek emergency medical attention or call 911 if you can’t get to your local ER. While waiting for help, make sure to strip off any additional clothing and stay in the shade. Keep the person cool by spraying them with water or applying ice packs.
Know the Causes
Most causes of heatstroke are due to being exposed to hot temperatures for a prolonged period of time; however, older adults and those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses are more at risk for heatstroke. If you exercise or work outside you are also more likely to develop heatstroke. This is particularly common in those who aren’t used to working in high temperatures.
Heatstroke can also occur if you are drinking alcohol, don’t drink enough water, or are wearing too many clothes, which can prevent you from sweating.
There are some steps you can take to safeguard yourself and your family from heatstroke during the hot summer months.
These steps include,
- Staying hydrated and drinking enough water
- Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (and reapplying every two hours)
- Wearing lightweight clothing
- Not sitting in a parked car
- Avoiding intense activities and exercise on very hot days
- Spending only short bursts of time in hot weather to properly acclimate your body
- Knowing if your medications could impact your ability to stay hydrated, which can increase your risk for heatstroke
Be smart this summer when it comes to exercising or enjoying time outdoors. If the weather is too hot, make sure to be vigilant about how much time you’re spending outside. If you or a loved one develops symptoms of heat exhaustion, go inside and cool down immediately. If you develop symptoms of heatstroke, you must seek immediate medical attention.