By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects
Summer is here, and it’s hot!
Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous activities during hot weather. However, those at the greatest risk of heat-related illness are:
- The elderly
- The very young
- Those with chronic diseases or mental illness
The body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather is affected by:
Humidity: When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly. This prevents your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need.
Personal factors: Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, prescription drugs and alcohol use may all play a role in a person’s ability to adequately and safely cool off enough in hot weather.
To help prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries or deaths during hot weather, consider the following:
- Air-conditioning: the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death is air-conditioning. If you or someone you know does not have air-conditioning, spending time in public facilities that have air-conditioning can reduce the risk of heat-related illness.
- Fluids: drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they promote dehydration.
- Being outdoors: schedule outdoor activities carefully, and pace yourself.
- Clothing: wear loose, lightweight, light colored clothing. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than synthetics.
- Sunscreen: always wear sunscreen to protect your skin!
- Water: it’s not just for hydration—cool showers or baths are a great way to cool down.
- Rest: be careful not to over exert yourself.
- Pay attention: do NOT leave pets or children in cars!
- Use common sense: if the heat is intolerable, stay indoors in the air-conditioning as much as you can.
Excerpts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention