With summer fast approaching, remember that hot, humid weather can be a hazard to your health. In fact, hot weather causes more deaths than any other weather-related hazard. In hot and humid conditions, your body must work harder—just to maintain a normal temperature. Older adults and those with illnesses are at greater risk.
The good news is that heat-related illness and death can be prevented. There are simple steps you can take to keep from falling ill.
1. Stay Cool
- Stay in air-conditioned locations as much as possible. If your home is not air conditioned find places in your community that are air conditioned. Find out if your community has a cooling center available during hot months.
- Don’t stay in a hot car (and don’t leave pets in a hot car).
- If you are outdoors, take breaks from the heat, especially during the hottest part of the day.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Cover your windows with drapes to keep out the hot sun.
- Consider using attic fans to clear hot air from your house.
Note: When the temperature outside is over 95 degrees, don’t use electric fans to try to stay cool. At this temperature, fans create a false sense of comfort, and do not reduce body temperature.
2. Stay Hydrated
- Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- If you are on a special diet or if you have end-stage renal disease or advanced congestive heart failure, ask your doctor how to stay hydrated.
3. Stay Protected
- Avoid strenuous or high-energy activities.
- Wear loose and lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Wear sunscreen.
- When outdoors, stay in the shade and wear a hat with a wide brim.
4. Watch for Signs of Heat Stress
On hot days, watch for signs of heat illness in yourself and others. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are possible on hot days. Signs of heat-related illness include:
- Muscle pains, cramps, or spasms
- Heavy sweating, paleness, weakness, dizziness, headache nausea or vomiting
- Confusion, fainting or unconsciousness
- High body temperature (over 103 degrees) with dry skin (not sweating)
- Rapid pulse
If you feel sick and suspect it may be heat-related, sip a sports drink. Get medical help if you still don’t feel better. If you experience very high body temperature, rapid pulse, or dizziness it can be an emergency. Get medical help immediately.
By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of heat injury. Have a safe and enjoyable summer!