What are the warning signs of heat related illnesses and how do you prevent it?
Spending time outside is nice, but too much sun can put you at risk for developing a heat related illness. As the temperature rises, your body’s natural cooling mechanism, sweat (or more kindly, perspiration), evaporates and helps to cool your body. But on those hot, humid cut-the-air-with-a knife days, evaporation is slowed and your body may not be able to keep itself cool. Children and teens are especially susceptible as they produce more heat with activity than adults and sweat less. The result is that you can potentially be at risk of heat stroke.
The best defense against heat related illnesses, prevention.
When the temperature rises, especially when the heat index is above 90 degrees, follow these simple tips to prevent heat related illnesses.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water even if you don't feel thirsty to help your body keep up with increased sweating.
- Avoid sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. They can cause your body to lose more fluid than normal.
- Stick close to air-conditioned areas, especially during the warmest part of the day. No AC at home? Head to the library, movie theater or mall to stay cool.
- Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting and lightweight clothes are best. Stick to light colors. Darker colors trap heat.
The causes of heat related illnesses and the warning signs of to watch for.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), here are some items you might do if you or someone else shows signs of having a heat-related illness.
- What Causes Heat Cramps Heat cramps consist of muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise and sweating in high heat.
- Watch for: Muscle cramps in the abdomen, arms or legs during heavy exercise or strenuous activity.
- How to treat Heat Cramps: Stop exercising immediately. Rehydrate with water.
- What Causes Heat Rash Heath rash occurs when the skin's sweat glands are blocked and the sweat produced cannot get to the surface of the skin to evaporate.
- Watch for: An area of red pimples or small blisters caused by sweat ducts becoming blocked and swelling.
- How to treat heat rash: Keep the area dry and head inside where it's cooler and less humid.
- What Causes Heat Exhaustion Heat exhaustion results from a loss of water and salt in the body and occurs when the body no longer is unable to cool itself properly.
- Watch for: Heavy sweating, pale skin, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea and more.
- How to treat heat exhaustion: Rehydrate with cool beverages and head inside. If symptoms get worse or last longer than an hour, call 911.
- What Causes Heat Stroke Heat stroke occurs when the body's heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat. It is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
- Watch for: Hot, dry skin or heavy sweating, flushed skin, high body temperature, rapid pulse, confusion and more.
- How to treat heat stroke: Call 911, and try to lower the person's body temperature by getting them to a shady area and placing ice packs or cool wet towels on their neck, armpits and groin or immersing them in cool water.
Summer is a time for enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. As you head out doors, take appropriate precautions and watch for the signs of heat related illnesses.