As the temperatures spike this summer, the risk of heat-related injury such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion also rise. While the temperatures are hard to avoid, there are ways to recognize symptoms and prevent heat-injury. People who tend to be more at risk are young children and infants, people over the age of 65 and those who are overweight or have a preexisting illness. It is important to note that some medications can also make you more sensitive to sun exposure and heat.
The best way to prevent a heat related injury is to stay cool. This sounds obvious, but it is not always easy to do. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, there are still ways to stay cool, such as keeping curtains closed, keeping high traffic rooms open and fans going to create a continuous moving air flow. Also, taking a cool shower is more effective at cooling down than sitting in front of a fan.
Be sure to pay attention to local weather so you are aware of any extreme heat warnings. If you must be outdoors in high temperatures, stay hydrated, and wear light-weight clothing that is loose fitting. The best way to keep yourself hydrated is to drink before you feel thirsty (thirst is a sign that your body is becoming dehydrated) and to avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol or excessive sugars. Try to schedule outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the evening. When out in the sun, be sure to wear sunscreen.
Symptoms of heat-related injury such as heat exhaustion include but are not limited to: excessive thirst, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat and profuse sweating. If you experience any of these symptoms, get to a cool area. If you do not have access to an air conditioned room, move to a shaded area. Drinking plenty of fluids and removing any tight or unnecessary clothing will also help cool you off. In addition, it will help to use a fan, ice or other available cooling means. If after 15 minutes, these methods of cooling off are not providing any relief, we suggest you seek medical help because if left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke which can lead to more serious health problems such as organ failure or even death.
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