The dog days of summer have arrived in full force, and with them comes an increased risk of heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses. While a day at the beach or a picnic in the park are popular ways to enjoy a carefree summer day, the combination of beating sun and high humidity can be a dangerous one.
But that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy your fun in the sun. By taking the necessary steps, you can be sure to enjoy your summer days in a safe, healthy way. In order to beat the heat and help keep yourself and your family safe, hydrated, and cool, follow these five tips from Dr. Matthew Stupple, an emergency care specialist at Ellenville Regional Hospital.
“Everyone is aware of the dangers of leaving the kids in the car, period. Even if you leave the air conditioning on, if something happens, in just a few minutes that could be really bad,” Stupple says. He warns against leaving anyone unattended in the car, especially the elderly, as the very old and the very young are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.
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Existing chronic health conditions such as obesity can affect your body’s ability to get rid of heat, so be realistic about what your body can handle, says Stupple. Medications, too, can increase risk of heat-related illnesses, so “be aware that if you’re on certain medications that might affect your ability to handle the heat,” including but not limited to stimulating medications, certain diabetes medications and antihistamines, and some blood pressure medications.
Also, certain people are more acclimatized to the heat, so don’t sweat it if you can’t keep up with your buddy from Hawaii or someone who’s used to working outside all day.
To cut down on risk for heat exhaustion, “avoid doing things in the middle of the day, the hottest part of the day,” Stupple recommends. If you don’t absolutely need to be outside at this point of the day, don’t. Instead, make the most of the excuse to duck indoors and enjoy some air conditioning. You deserve it!
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“Make sure you drink plenty of fluids [and] stay well hydrated,” Stupple stresses. Heat-related illnesses are almost always accompanied by dehydration, so keep on drinking. And limit alcohol consumption, too. As Stupple says, “That’s never good for hydration.”
Light colored, loose-fitting clothes are best for when the weather gets hot. Of course, that’s not always possible. “If your profession has you wearing a lot of clothes,” Stupple says, citing firefighters, athletes, and military members as examples, “make sure you pay even closer attention to hydration levels and spend as much time as possible in the shade.”
As long as you take the necessary precautions, there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying beautiful, sunny days outside. Just be aware of the risks and make sure to seek medical assistance if you or someone else experience extreme dizziness, confusion, or fatigue, since those could be signs of heat exhaustion.