The dangers of summer heat

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2005

With the weather outside frightful – and not in the manner spoken of in the Christmas song – it’s important to know how to deal with the heat as the summer rolls on. Hundred-degree temperatures don’t take the time to let you know that they’re starting to affect you – cramps, heat exhaustion, and, tragically, heatstroke can strike quickly and without warning.

With that in mind, let’s review a few simple tips for dealing with the heat, especially for those that work outside all day, or the high school kids who’ll be getting ready for football season over the next few weeks.

If inside:

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-Stay near the television or radio to get updates from the Weather Channel or radio station.

-If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, away from the sunshine.

-Drink fluids often, even if not thirsty, to help the body stay cool. Stick to water or juice and avoid alcohol, as it dehydrates the body.

-Eat small, frequent meals. Avoid high-protein meals, which increase the body’s heat.

-Keep pets indoors and refill their water bottle frequently.

-Never take a cold showed immediately after becoming overheated. This may cause the body to cool too quickly and cause illness, dizziness and/or nausea.

If outside:

-Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect the sun’s energy.

-Avoid strenuous activity. If possible, do it between 4 p.m. and 7 a.m.

-Cover exposed skin with sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face and head.

-Again, drink lots of fluids.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related problems:

-Cramps. Muscle spasms and pains caused by exertion, caused by dehydration. To relieve, press on or gently massage affected area.

-Heat exhaustion. A mild form of shock marked by heavy sweating, weakness, cold, clammy skin, fainting and vomiting. Rest in a cool place. Loosen clothing and apply cool, wet cloths. If vomiting, seek medical attention. This condition is extremely prevalent in young children and the elderly.

-Heatstroke. The ability to sweat stops, and the body temperature can rise so high as to cause brain damage and death in less than 10 minutes. Call 911 immediately. Remove clothing and use a cool sponge bath or fan to lower body temperature. Do not give fluids.