may complain about the heat, but high temperatures can be
dangerous for anyone. Particularly at risk are kids, the elderly,
anyone with a chronic condition such as asthma, heart disease, and
diabetes, overweight people, athletes, and those who work outside or in
hot areas. Also, certain medications such as antihistamines, blood
pressure and heart medicines, diet pills, antidepressants and water
pills affect how the body deals with the heat.
Most of us are at risk for a heat-related illness with the extreme temperatures we've been experiencing over the past few days.
why itís important to be able to recognize the symptoms of the big
three high temperature illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat
stroke. There may be a progression from one to the next, so catching
the signs early can literally be a lifesaver.
cramps are muscle pains and spasms caused by exertion such as exercise
or physically challenging work. The abdominal and leg muscles are
typically affected. If someone is suffering from heat cramps,
they should be brought to a cool area and slowly given water to rehydrate.
exhaustion is brought on when the body is unable to effectively cool
itself. Often there is profuse sweating. Other symptoms include pale or
flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness. Someone
with these symptoms should be moved to a cool place and encouraged to
slowly drink water. If they are not feeling better within 30 minutes,
contact a doctor or emergency personnel.
most serious heat illness is heat stroke. This is a life threatening
condition in which the bodyís temperature control system stops
working. The symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red skin,
constricted (small) pupils and a high body temperature. If you
suspect heat stroke, call an ambulance. Brain damage and/or death can
occur if the body is not cooled quickly enough. Follow the instructions
of emergency personnel while waiting for paramedics. This may include
cooling the body quickly with a cool bath or fans and treating for
you're unsure what is wrong, call 911 and have the person checked out. It is
better to be sure than to wonder if you are right.
The American Red Cross has a
safety check list for this kind of weather. Print a copy off and review it, the information could save a life.
How to deal with
While staying cool is the best
way, it often isn't enough. If you like being in the sun and playing, or just
going out fishing, or any activity in the heat where it is hard to stay cool,
here are some suggestions to help protect yourself and those you care about.
Wear light colored clothing. Dark clothes only attract the
heat, not to mention the bugs. Make sure your clothes are light weight, too.
That allows your skin to breath and stay cool.
Avoid alcoholic beverages. They cause the blood vessels to dilate
and makes it harder for your body to release the extra heat. It can also make
you unaware how hot you really are.
Drinking water is always a good idea, but drinking something
with electrolytes is much better. Electrolytes allow the nervous system to
operate correctly. If you don't have enough in your body you can suffer from a
stroke, heart palpations, or even heart attack. Look for something like Gatorade,
Power Aid, or other dinks with electrolytes in them.
Use a good sunscreen, SPF 50 is the best. While most everyone
likes a good tan, it is better to protect your skin from the damage of the UV
rays. Using sunscreen won't keep you from getting a tan, it will just take a
Children can succumb to the heat as well. They often get
active in play and don't think to drink or how to stay cooler. It is recommended
that children be watched carefully for signs of heat related issues.
Be sure to keep these things in mind, and be sure to be safe
this summer. The only way to enjoy the summer is when you are safe!