Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Extremely hot temperatures can be quite dangerous, even deadly. Over 200 people die every year due to heat illnesses (called hyperthermia), and if you are a walker, you especially need to take precautions when walking outside in hot weather. There are several steps you can take to help you prevent heat illness.
1—Know the Risk Factors and Symptoms: All heat illness is a result of a failure of the body’s cooling system. Usually, sweating is how the body regulates its temperature, but with heat illness, the body is unable to effectively cool itself and as a result, the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.
Risk factors for heat illness include extreme temperatures, high humidity, sunburn, being under 5 or over 65 years of age, obesity, being ill, taking certain medications, working outdoors or in hot environments, consuming alcohol, or over-exertion.
Heat illness includes dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. The signs of these illnesses can overlap, so all must be taken seriously.
Symptoms to watch for include headache, dizziness, fainting, nausea, weakness, confusion, hot, dry skin or cold, clammy skin.
Symptoms of heatstroke (vomiting, confusion, fainting, a rapid weak pulse, high body temperature, and/or rapid shallow breathing) are life-threatening and emergency help should be called immediately.
2—Take Action Quickly. If you or someone you are with experiences any of the symptoms of heat illness, get to a cooler, shady place or indoors as quickly as possible, give water to drink, and cool them off with cold compresses (wet towels or sheets). If symptoms persist or progress to those of heatstroke, go to an emergency room or call 911 immediately and follow their advice.
3—Take Preventive Measures:
Dress appropriately—wear lightweight, light colored clothes. A hat or umbrella will protect you from the full effects of the sun. Wicking clothes, like Coolmax, will help you stay cooler, too.
Wear Sunscreen—a sunburn can decrease your body’s ability to cool itself. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply according to directions.
Drink Water—stay hydrated by drinking water often during hot weather. You should drink at least 8 glasses a day even if you are not working outside. If you will be working or exercising outdoors, take water with you and drink an 8-ounce glass of water every 15 minutes. If you do not have air conditioning, drink more water as the temperature rises over 90 degrees. By the time you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine as they are dehydrating. If your urine is dark, that may be a sign of dehydration.
Stay out of the Sun—If you work outside in your garden or walking or whatever, do so in the early morning or early evening hours. Avoid being outside between 10 am and 4 pm if at all possible.
Take Frequent Breaks—When working outside, stop for a rest and water break every hour. Be sure to take your break in the shade, too!
Replace salt and electrolytes—if you are outside for long periods of time and sweating a lot, you are losing salt (which may lead to heat-related muscle cramps) and other electrolytes which you need to replace. A sports drink such as Gatorade or Propel will help. If you are out for more than an hour, drink 8 ounces of one of these to every two glasses of water.
This wicking shirt will keep you cooler. It comes in sizes Extra-Small to XX Large, and can be worn almost anywhere!
These insulators will keep your water cooler longer in the hot weather: