While hot summer days offer lots of fun, you can overdo your fun in the sun. Being outside when temperatures are on the rise can lead to sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion, sun stroke and worse. According to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2006 and 2010, exposure to excessive heat, heat stroke and/or sun stroke caused or contributed to 3,332 deaths in the U.S. Therefore, it’s important to practice summer heat safety precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.
When summer temperatures rise – especially above 90 degrees F, the heat can be particularly dangerous. Some people are more vulnerable to the heat than others, including:
- Infants and young children
- Adults with chronic health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or respiratory conditions like COPD.
Learn to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms appear before heat stroke signs.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
The signs of heat exhaustion may include:
- Clammy skin or skin that feels moist and cool when touched
- Excessive sweating
- Fast, weak pulse
- Shallow, fast breathing
- Dizziness and/or fainting
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pale complexion or loss of skin color
If someone experiences these symptoms, get them out of the heat immediately. They should drink plenty of cool fluids. Also they should wipe down with cool cloths. If they don’t recover quickly, call 911 immediately.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Symptoms of major heat exposure, also known as heat stroke, include:
- Extremely high body temperature (over 103 degrees F)
- Red skin that’s hot and dry to the touch
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Lack of sweating
- Throbbing headache
If someone has signs of heat exposure, get them out of the heat immediately. Call 911 or take them to the nearest hospital. Heat stroke requires urgent medical attention.
Summer Heat Safety Tips
In order to protect yourself and your loved ones when the temperatures rise, keep these summer heat safety tips in mind when you’re out and about.
- Stay inside an air-conditioned building during the hottest hours of the day (mid-morning to mid-afternoon). Avoid strenuous activity or exercise during these hours.
- If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, go to an air-conditioned library, movie theater, mall or other building.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly reach 120 degrees F.
- Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Also wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
- Drink plenty of water. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar, which can cause you to lose more body fluid.
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
- Supervise all children closely and frequently while playing outside.
- If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks and use a buddy system to monitor for signs of heat exhaustion.
- After being outside, lower your body temperature by taking a cool shower or bath.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medications you may be on can increase your risk for heat stress.
By following these summer heat safety tips, you can reduce your risk of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cover photo Credit: 123RF / vladischern