Stay safe and cool this summer

Whitney Adams
Clinical Nurse II, Emergency Department

Kids running through sprinklerSummer is here! Last week temperatures topped 100 degrees, and it felt even hotter because of the heat index. A high heat index is caused by high humidity, which keeps sweat from evaporating off your skin and prevents your body from cooling down. This puts you at risk for heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke (which can be fatal).

Anyone can experience heat-related illnesses, but some are more susceptible than others. Infants, children and senior citizens have the highest risk. Monitor infants and children closely for signs of heat-related illnesses, and check on elderly adults frequently. If a loved one or friend exhibits the following signs of heat-related illnesses, seek medical attention immediately.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion

  • disorientation
  • muscle cramps
  • excessive sweating
  • fainting
  • nausea
  • vomiting
Warning signs of heat stroke

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • lack of sweat
  • rapid heart rate

There are a few simple things you can do to lower your risk of heat-related illnesses.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, especially if you will be outside for extended periods of time.
  • Avoid being outside during the mid- to late afternoon because temperatures are typically highest then.
  • Take breaks if you are working outside, and find some shade, rest, drink water and cool off.
  • Remember to always wear protective gear, such as hats, sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher is recommended).
  • Stay indoors, especially in an air-conditioned space. Fans are helpful for cooling, but when temperatures reach over 90 degrees they offer little protection from heat-related illnesses. If your home is not air conditioned, visit a friend or public location, such as a mall or library, that is air conditioned.

Following these tips will help reduce your risk of heat-related illness and keep your summer enjoyable!

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