Imagine relaxing pool side with your family on a hot 85 degree summer day. There’s a cooler next to you filled with cold water and a basket full of sandwiches and snacks. Your partner lays on the towel next to you catching some sun while the children have been playing in the pool for quite some time. Have you done everything you can to protect yourself and your family against heat related illnesses?
Heat related illnesses including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope and heat rash are damaging to the body and can even affect long term consequences in several vital organs including the brain. People suffer from heat related illnesses when the body’s control system for the normal temperature is unable to regulate its internal temperature. Bodies release heat and cools itself by sweating. When humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly preventing the body from releasing heat. How can we protect ourselves and our families this summer when trying to keep cool while planning outdoor activities? As long as a few simple changes are made in your daily outdoor schedule, your summer will be safe and healthy.
Staying hydrated, even when the body doesn’t feel thirsty, is a key aspect when planning an event outside. Drink plenty of water and try to refrain from high sodium fluids. Replace salt and minerals with sports beverages especially during exercise or when working in the heat. Avoid caffeine and alcohol on hot days which promotes dehydration. If you’re planning a day in the sun, place a water bottle or two in the freezer. This allows the water to stay cool for a longer amount of time and also makes for a nice cool pack for your face and neck.
Wear light colored loose fitted clothing. Dark colors attract the sun rays and will heat the body at a faster rate. Wearing clothing made of cotton will allow the material to breath and pass air through compared to a synthetic material which will contain the body’s heat. Caps and wide brimmed hats are always suggested to protect the face and head. Always apply suntan lotion 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply as directed on the bottle. Apply the correct lotion for your skin type and always use a lotion 15 SPF or above.
Take it slow. If you decide to exercise on a heated day, consider performing your exercise routine during cooler hours of the day such as early morning or late evening when the sun is not as high. If you’re unable to move your routine, take it easy and walk more than run. Don’t stay out for an extended period of time putting you at a higher risk and remember to stay hydrated!
Stay inside! On scourging hot days try to stay indoors or travel to local venues with indoor activities such as the mall, a public library or a movie theater. Staying inside where an air conditioner is located is an excellent way of keeping the body cool and safe from heat overload.
Everyone is at risk of heat related illnesses, but especially the elderly, infants and children up to 4 years in age, overweight individuals and people who may have a mental illness. These individuals dehydrate easily and are more vulnerable to heat. Don’t forget about our furry friends as well who need protection from dehydration and heat related illnesses too. Always bring water for your pets while out and about keeping the water in a shady area and never leave them in a parked car.
By following these basic steps this summer, you’ll be a step closer in keeping yourself and family safe from the heat. For more information on how to stay safe this summer click Center for Disease Control and Prevention or if you have your own suggestions, please comment below.
By Stacey Ziegler, DR Vitamin Solutions