Staying Healthy in the Heat
by Katie Frizzell
Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes high temperatures. Don’t fall victim to a heat related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The higher the temperatures, the more likely you are to suffer from one of these dangerous illnesses. It doesn’t happen just to outdoor workers because anyone can experience these things if you don’t take extra care of yourself while outside this summer. Learn some ways to prevent them so you can have a safe and fun summer.
First, you need to be able recognize the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and understand the differences. When someone is experiencing heat exhaustion, they may have these symptoms: heavy sweating, paleness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting, rapid breathing, and a fast, weak pulse. Someone suffering from a heat stroke will experience these symptoms: a body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, red, hot, dry skin, no sweating, rapid, strong pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and loss of consciousness. If you think you or someone you’re with is experiencing one of these serious heat related illnesses, move the person to a cool place (shade or indoors), give them small sips of cold water. If you believe it is a heat stroke or it is heat exhaustion that isn’t getting better in a reasonable amount of time, call for emergency medical help right away.
There are some things you can do to prevent getting overheated. First, drinking water is very important so that you don’t get dehydrated, which is easier once temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Always have water with you, drink more than you think you need, don’t wait until you’re thirsty, and try to drink about 1 quart every hour, or take a large drink every 15 minutes. It is important to follow these water rules, regardless of your summer activity, whether you’re farming, swimming, at the beach, or floating the river. You may not think you are hot and thirsty, but you probably are!
The next thing you can do is take frequent breaks in the shade, such as under a tree, an awning, or using your own umbrella to keep the sun off you. It is especially important to take breaks during the hottest times of the day, which is between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. in Arkansas. Wearing a hat, especially a wide brimmed hat, can help keep your head and face cool while outside. The final method to preventing over exposure to heat, is gradually adjusting to the heat. Health specialist recommend adjusting for a period of 10 – 20 days. One way to adjust is by starting to go outdoors in spring, so that as temperatures rise, your body is gradually getting used to being outside. Try to remember not to go from really cold and cool temperatures to really hot ones all of a sudden. This will cause your body to be shocked of the sudden change, and you could suffer from a heat related illness.
Summer is a fun time here in Arkansas, but as we all know, it is HOT! When you go to work outdoors, head to the lake, or weed the garden, try to remember these tips so you can stay safe and healthy and have a fun summer.
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