Protect Against Heat-Related Illness: 3 Tips on How to Stay Safe
Summer is here! That means extremely hot weather is right around the corner! Whether working outside or enjoying the sun by the pool, you must be mindful of heat-related illnesses. A high body temperature can damage the brain and your vital organs. It can also cause heat stress, exhaustion, or stroke!
This is why keeping your body cool and not overdoing it in the heat is essential. Suppose you experience any of these health conditions, obesity, sunburn, heart disease, dehydration, fever, poor circulation, old age, and drug and alcohol use. These health conditions could make it more challenging to regulate your body temperature.
So when the temperature outside gets high, here are three valuable and life-saving tips to help keep your body cool and safe this season.
- Wear Loose, Lightweight, and Light-Colored Clothing
- Stay Hydrated
- Pace Yourself & Wear Sunscreen
These three tips can save a life. Continue reading to learn more about these three tips and heat-related illness prevention. You can find further details and descriptions of why these three tips are essential.
1. Wear Loose, Lightweight, and Light-Colored Clothing
When you are outdoors wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing. Light-colored clothing will stay cooler compared to dark colors. This is because light colors on clothing reflect most of the visible wavelengths. Since most of the light is reflected, less heat is absorbed by the clothes, thus keeping you cooler.
Whether you know it or not, your body is sweating to help keep you cool. Loose and lightweight clothing will allow air to pass along the skin and exit easier. This helps speed up the evaporation of sweat off your skin. As the water in sweat evaporates the skin’s surface cools, so you should wear loose and lightweight clothes.
2. Make Sure You Stay Hydrated
Sweating removes much-needed salts, minerals, and fluids from your body. This loss of salts, minerals, and fluids from your body can cause dehydration. So, while you are out in the heat, you must replace those fluids and minerals. The best way to do this is by drinking water, juice, and sports drinks.
Do not consume drinks with caffeine (tea, coffee, and cola) and alcohol. These types of drinks cause your body to expel water faster from your body. One example is caffeine increases blood flow to your kidney, which spurs them to release more water through urine. This combination of excessive sweat and water loss can cause someone to become dehydrated faster.
Why is dehydration so dangerous?
Dehydration can cause health problems and make your job more difficult. Mild dehydration can cause problems with blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature regulation issues. Some symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, and headache. In most cases of mild dehydration, you can consume the recommended fluids above and recover. Still, if you or someone you know is experiencing severe dehydration, you must seek medical help immediately.
For moderate to severe dehydration, you may need to receive an IV injection of fluids at the hospital. Severe dehydration can cause weakness, confusion, tiredness, and dizziness, all of which can be extremely dangerous when performing a job or activity. In extreme cases dehydration can lead to kidney damage, brain damage, and even death. So, staying hydrated is one of the most critical steps a person can take to stay safe in the heat!
3. Pace Yourself and Wear Sunscreen
Another heat illness prevention tip is to pace yourself and wear sunscreen outside. If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, you will want to start off easy and monitor how you feel. If you feel your heart pounding and it leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity immediately! Get yourself to a cool/shaded area and rest. Do not continue any activities if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
Lastly, you want to make sure you wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool, making you dehydrated quicker. While outdoors, protect yourself with SPF 15 or higher thirty minutes before going outside. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are an excellent choice to make. These two items will help you stay even more protected from the sun.
- Tip: When picking sunscreen look for ones that say broad-spectrum or UVA/UVB protection. This type of sunscreen provides you with the best protection from the sun.
Bonus Tip! Stay Informed
Check your local weather reports for any extreme heat alerts. On your local weather stations web page, you should also be able to find more safety tips and local cooling shelters in your area. These cooling centers are vital to anyone without a home to cool down or to individuals whose homes are inadequate to stay cool during extreme weather.
When you or someone you know is active in extreme heat, it is vital to know the signs of heat-related illness. Knowing these signs and prevention techniques can save a life. To learn more about the symptoms of heat-related diseases and how to treat them, check out this article by the CDC.
Lastly, monitor those who are at high risk. Anyone can suffer from a heat-related illness, but some people are at greater risk when overexposed to the sun.
- People performing manual labor or who exercise outside
- People 65 and over
- Infants and young children
- People who are overweight
- People with heart disease or high blood pressure
- People who take certain medications for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation
Anyone who falls into the list above should take the necessary steps to stay safe in the heat. Adults at risk should watch for and know the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need to be carefully monitored and should take multiple breaks from the sun.
Check out the links below for more tips on preventing heat-related illnesses.