With the hot and hazy days of summer fully upon us, it's important to always refresh one's memory on general, simple ways to avoid heat-related illness.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, one always needs to drink more fluids (non-alcoholic) during the summer, regardless of activity level. Never wait until you're thirsty to drink. Also, keep in mind, that if your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him/her how much you should drink during hot weather. Do not drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar. These drinks can cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
Stay indoors, and if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home lacks air conditioning, go shopping or public library. Just a few hours spent in these places can help your body stay cooler when you go into the heat. Call the local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
Electric fans provide somewhat of a comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose fitting clothing.
Also never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, including your pets.
Regularly check on those who are at a greater risk for heat-related illness than others. These groups include: infants and young children; those 65 and older; people with mental illness; those who are physically ill, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure.
Also, visit at-risk adults at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching.If you must be out in the heat, keep these tips from the CDC in mind:
Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Cut down on exercise, and if you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Though, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
Try to rest often in shady areas, and protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, especially products that say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB"
These tips and additional information can be found at www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp.