• Last modified 27 days ago (June 27, 2024)


Summer can be overdone

Staff writer

Summer may be “when the living is easy,” but this summer’s forecast is calling for hotter temperatures than usual, especially later this week, when Friday’s forecast calls for heat indexes to exceed 100.

It’s possible to enjoy time outdoors in the heat, but precautions should be taken to avoid heat exhaustion and its more dangerous cousin, heat stroke.

Heat stroke happens when the body no longer can control its temperature, which then rises rapidly.

The person is no longer able to sweat, so the body can’t cool itself. Once heat stroke sets in, body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 15 minutes.

Staying hydrated is the best way to avoid developing heat-related illness, county ambulance director Chuck Kenney said.

“If you’re going to work outside, you should start getting hydrated in advance,” he said.

Drinking water while out in the heat is good, but water sits in the stomach before being absorbed and helping cool the body, Kenney said.

Signs of heat stroke are disorientation, lack of sweating, blurred vision, muscle cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

Cool compresses on the head and neck will rapidly help cool the body. Kenney said. So will getting inside a cool place.

Nausea and vomiting are later signs of heat stroke, he said.

“If you’re getting those signs,” he said, “seek medical attention.”

Many people drink sports drinks when outdoors in heat, but as with water, it takes time for sports drinks to work, he said.

Mayo Clinic says heat exhaustion usually sets in before heat stroke.

Its signs are:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat.
  • Heavy sweating.
  • Faintness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weak, rapid pulse.
  • Low blood pressure upon standing.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Nausea.
  • Headache.

When heat exhaustion strikes, all outdoor activity should be stopped, and the person should drink cool water or sports drinks.

Youngsters and elderly people are at greater risk for heat-related diseases.

Illness and medications also can increase risk. Among the medications are those to treat high blood pressure, reduce allergy symptoms, and treat psychiatric symptoms.

Obesity also makes it more difficult to control body temperature.

Other steps to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:

  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing to allow your body to cool properly.
  • Wear sunscreen to protect against sunburn and reflect harmful sun rays.
  • Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Take time to get acclimated to the heat. It can take as long as several weeks to adjust to hot weather.
  • Take it easy during the hottest portion of the day. Avoid strenuous exercise or strenuous labor then.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car on a hot day, even if the car is in shade or windows are cracked. National Safety Council statistics indicate 29 children died of heat stroke in hot cars during 2023 and that, on average, 37 children die in hot cars every year.

Last modified June 27, 2024