As the weather warms up and we head into summer, it’s important to remember that unusually high temperatures can be dangerous for many people. Those most at risk for heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses include infants, seniors, people who are physically impaired, and people who are on certain medications. While it’s only May now, it’s good to start preparing early and bear these tips in mind over the next few months:
- During a heat wave, be sure to check on your neighbors and friends- especially those who don’t have air conditioning.
- Use water- damp towels or bandannas on you head or neck can help cool you down. You can also try soaking your feet, taking cold showers, or using a spray bottle to spritz yourself throughout the day.
- Avoid using appliances that generate heat, like the oven or stove, and turn off incandescent lights.
- Stay hydrated- drink lots of water and avoid diuretic substances like caffeine and alcohol.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, try visiting air-conditioned public buildings during the hottest part of the day. These might include malls, movie theatres, libraries, grocery stores, gyms, or community centers.
- Remember that pets can suffer from heat-related illness as well. Make sure your pets stay cool and hydrated.
- Seek cool air on the lower level of your home- heat rises, so the basement is often the coolest part of a house in the summer.
- Avoid wearing dark colors that absorb the sun’s rays.
- Shield windows or use shades to keep out the sun. If you have a car, using a windshield heat shield can keep the inside a little cooler.
- Know the symptoms of heatstroke! If you think someone may be experiencing heatstroke, call 911. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of heat stroke include:
“High body temperature. A core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, obtained with a rectal thermometer, is the main sign of heatstroke.
Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
Headache. Your head may throb.”
I hope these tips help make your summer a little safer!