The summer is finally here! Although many of us like to leisurely spend time in the sun whether it means going for a walk, doing some much needed yard work or gardening, or just enjoying the beautiful outdoors, it is important to be aware about how much sun we get to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Prevention is the first step in keeping us all healthy through these hot temperatures! To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and follow these tips:
• Drink plenty of fluids Increase your fluid intake regardless of your activity level. During hot weather, you will need to drink more liquid than your thirst indicates. Drinking plenty of liquids during exercise is especially important. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid. Caution: If your doctor has prescribed a fluid-restricted diet or diuretics for you, ask your doctor how much you should drink.
• Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will provide shade and keep the head cool. Apply a sunscreen with a SPF 30 or higher and reapply often, as directed on the label.
• Pace yourself If you are unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity, get into a cool area or in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, weak, or faint. Stay cool indoors The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in a cool or air-conditioned area. If you do not have an air conditioner consider a visit visiting a place that is air conditioned. Shopping malls, movie theaters and public libraries are usually air-conditioned and good places to visit to get out of the heat.
• Schedule outdoor activities carefully If you must be out in the heat, try to plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area. Resting periodically will give your body’s thermostat a chance to recover.
• Use a buddy system When working in the heat or enjoying the sun, monitor the condition of your coworkers, family or friends, and have someone do the same for you. Heat-related illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. Older people and young children can be more affected by the heat. During a heat wave, if you are a senior have someone check in on you. Adjust to the environment Be aware that any sudden change in temperature, such as an early summer heat wave, will be stressful to your body. Take time to adjust to the heat before doing too much activity and work up to it gradually.
• Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car. It is great to enjoy the summer but in doing so, remember to stay healthy and protect yourself! Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Stay cool, drink lots of water, and enjoy your summer