When it’s hot outside it’s important that everyone take measures to stay cool, remain hydrated, keep informed, and take care of those that need extra help.
Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet the CDC reports that more than 700 people die from extreme heat every year in the United States.
Getting too hot can make you sick. The main things affecting our body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:
1. High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly, and this keeps the body from releasing heat as fast as it should.
2. Personal factors. Age, illness, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn, and drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.
When temperatures rise, there are many ways to reduce your risk of getting sick.
Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned area, as much as possible. Cover windows that receive the bright morning or afternoon sun. If your home is not air-conditioned, spend more time in air-conditioned public facilities, like a shopping mall or public library.
Do not rely on a fan as the main cooling device during periods of extreme heat. Fans may provide temporary comfort, but when temperatures get high, they may not prevent heat-related illness.
Eat light meals more frequently throughout the day and avoid hot and heavy meals. Avoid using the stove or oven to cook, when possible, to keep temperatures down inside the house.
If you take prescription diuretics, antihistamines, mood-altering or antispasmodic drugs, check with a doctor about the effects of sun and heat exposure.
When it’s hot, it’s important to drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. If your doctor limits the amount you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or a lot of sugar. Consume sports drinks with electrolytes during activities that cause heavy sweating.
During the hottest days, those who are at the highest risk include people 65 and older, infants and young children, and people with chronic medical conditions. Check in on family members and neighbors who are elderly, house-bound or may be reluctant to ask for help.
Keep kids cool and hydrated. Avoid dressing babies in heavy clothing or wrapping them in warm blankets.
NEVER leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
Never let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area and keep car keys out of a child’s reach. If a child is missing, quickly check all vehicles, including the trunk.
Pets also need extra care in hot weather. If they are outside, make sure pets have plenty of cool water and access to comfortable shade.
During hot weather, plan outdoor activities during morning or evening hours to avoid being outside during the hottest hours of the day. If you are outside during hot, midday weather, take care to stay cool and hydrated.
Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing, a hat, and sunglasses. Take frequent breaks and rest often in the shade.
Pace your activity by starting slow and increasing the intensity gradually. Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink more.
Avoid sunburn because it slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
Know the signs of heat-related illnesses so you can respond quickly. At the first signs of heat illness, which might include dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps, or similar, move to a cooler location to rest and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if you do not begin to feel better.
Heat Cramps Move to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Drink chilled water, a sports drink containing electrolytes, or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine. Seek medical attention if cramps last more than an hour.
Heat Exhaustion Move to a cooler location and lie down. Remove excess clothing. Take a cool bath. Drink chilled water, a sports drink containing electrolytes, or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last more than an hour.
Heat Stroke Call 911 or seek immediate medical care. Cool down the body with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.