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Take care in the heat

EDITORIAL

The past few days have been excruciatingly hot and humid for our area. With temperatures in the 90s and the heat index above 100, the ticker moved from “hot” to “dangerously hot.”

The National Weather Service has issued the following safety guidelines to help you stay safe during the summer months.

  • Avoid the heat. Stay inside as much as possible. Spend time in an air-conditioned space. Just two hours a day in an air-conditioned space can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Shopping malls offer relief if your home is not air-conditioned. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Remember, electric fans do not cool, they just blow hot air around.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF rating.
  • Drink for the heat. Drink plenty of water and natural juices, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Even under moderately strenuous outdoor activity, the rate your body can absorb fluids is lower than the rate it loses water due to perspiration.
  • Do not drink in the heat. Avoid alcoholic beverages and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola. Alcohol and caffeine constrict blood vessels near the skin reducing the amount of heat the body can release. Although beer and alcohol beverages appear to satisfy thirst, they actually cause further body dehydration.
  • Eat for the heat. Eat small meals more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, because they increase metabolic heat. Avoid using salt tablets, unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Living in the heat. Slow down. Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities such as running, biking and lawn care when it heats up. The best times for such activities are during early morning and late evening hours. Take cool baths or showers and use cool, wet towels.
  • Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and know how to give first aid.

Also, take care of others, especially children and animals, by not leaving them in closed vehicles, and protect children’s skin when outside by applying sunscreen.