Beat the heat this summer with these tips
Everyone enjoys a little time in the sun, but many don’t consider the potential dangers of spending just a few minutes unprotected.
Extreme heat occurs when temperatures reach very high levels, or when the combination of heat and humidity causes the air to become oppressive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Extreme heat causes more deaths each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods, all combined.
Adults 65 and older, children younger than 4, people with existing medical problems such as heart disease and those without access to air conditioning are the most at risk.
“It’s important to stay cool and find an air-conditioned shelter,” said Galveston County Health District (GCHD) CEO Kathy Barroso. “If the AC is out in your home, go to a movie theater, a mall, somewhere that you can spend some time and take a break from the heat.”
Staying cool also means avoiding direct sunlight, wearing lightweight and light-colored clothing, taking cool showers or baths and not relying on a fan as the primary cooling device.
Drink plenty of water – more than you’d usually drink and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar and remind others to drink enough water.
“For those who work outdoors, hydration is key,” Barroso said. “Take a break in the shade if possible and know what to do in an emergency. Wear light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.”
Choose a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher that is water resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage that offers protection from UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen liberally before going outdoors. It takes about 15 minutes for skin to absorb the sunscreen.
Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount that fits in the palm of a hand, to cover the body, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
“Don’t forget your ears and the tops of your feet,” Barroso said. “If you are bald or have thinning hair, apply the sunscreen to your head or wear a hat. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.”
Heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are often confused. With heat exhaustion, the person is sweating a lot and with heat stroke, the person has stopped sweating and is dry. If not treated, heat exhaustion may lead to heat stroke, or death.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion includes headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, weakness, mood changes including irritability, confusion, upset stomach, vomiting, decreased or dark colored urine, fainting and pale clammy skin.
Mood changes including irritability and confusion are also symptoms of heat stroke, as well as dry, pale skin with no sweating, hot red skin that looks sunburned, seizures or fits and unconsciousness with no response.
For both heat exhaustion and heat stroke, move the victim to a cool shaded area. Do not leave the person alone. Loosen clothing and remove heavy clothing. Fan the person’s body to help cool them and apply a wet cloth to the skin. If the person is able to drink, give them cool water, unless they are sick to their stomach.
With a heat stroke, be sure to move any nearby objects away from the victim if symptoms include seizures or fits and use ice packs under the person’s armpits and groin area.