Heat Safety Part 1: Preventing Heat Illnesses

Heat illnesses are no joke. According to Weather.com, the United States saw record-breaking heat in 28 different cities across America this year. As we look ahead to fall, we know it’s only going to get hotter before it begins to cool down. So while you’re out and about during your last few weeks of summer, we want to make sure you and your family stay cool with these tips to prevent heat illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

    1. Drink plenty of water: Drink about 32 ounces of water every hour in order to stay properly hydrated.
    2. Stay in the shade: Wear visors, baseball caps or wide-brimmed sun hats to prevent the sun hitting the skin on your face and shoulders directly. Also, limit the amount of time you spend in the sun, and take breaks to cool down in the shade.
    3. What you wear matters: Wear light, loose-fitting clothes that are breathable and allow for airflow. Some athletic wear is made with fabric that is specifically designed to wick sweat and cool you down.
    4. Plan your day around the sun: The hottest part of the day is when the sun is high in the sky. This is also when you are most likely to get heat stroke. Plan to be outdoors either before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m., when the sun is not directly overhead.
    5. Check your medication: According to the Mayo Clinic, some medications may come with side effects that cause you to become dehydrated more easily.
    6. If you’re indoors: Airflow, either from air-conditioning or a fan, can significantly lower your chances of heat illnesses, by keeping your body temperature from rising too quickly.

Finally, it is important to know the first signs and symptoms of heat illnesses so you can prevent injury or hospitalization. The first thing you should look for is pale skin, goosebumps and shortness of breath. Someone affected by heat exhaustion will feel dizzy, as they are now completely dehydrated. More serious signs include throbbing headache, vomiting and fainting. Heat exhaustion can lead to confusion and disorientation, so it is important you look out for others and have someone who can look out for you, as well.

If you or anyone you know exhibits these symptoms, it is important to bring their body temperature back down to normal by cooling them off and giving them plenty of water. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NEVER stay in or leave anyone else in a car on a hot day: The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found that after just 10 minutes, the temperature of a car left out in the sun can increase 20 degrees, even with the windows rolled down an inch or two. Even on an overcast day, the temperature inside a car will rise and continue to rise up to life-threatening levels the longer it sits in the sun.