Summer is a great time to be outdoors with friends and/or family; however, overexposure to the heat can cause serious health problems. In 2006, between the months of May and August, 611 unintentional-injury deaths occurred due to heat exposure. Don't be afraid to go outside, just be sure to take simple precautions to ensure everyone has an enjoyable, safe summer.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Assist your children in providing adequate protection.
- Adjust gradually to being outside in the heat over a period of 10-20 days.
- Make sure to bring water wherever you go. Be sure to take drinks at least every 15 minutes.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to further protect yourself from damaging sun exposure as well as to keep your face cool.
- Be sure to take frequent breaks in the shade or a cool area during the hottest parts of the day.
- Wear light-colored clothing- dark colors absorb sunlight and heat.
- If you take any medication regularly, be sure to ask your doctor if you should be extra cautious when outside in the heat.
- If you decide to drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after.
Know the Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses and What to Do:
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: Severe thirst, fatigue, headache nausea, profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse.
What To Do: Sit or lie down in the shade, drink cool water or a sports drink and if persistent, gently apply wet towels and call for emergency medical help.
Heatstroke Symptoms: Victim's body extremely hot to the touch, altered mental status ranging from slight confusion and disorientation to coma, conscious victims usually become agitated, irrational and even aggressive. In severe heatstroke the victim can go into a coma in less than one hour. The longer the coma, the lower the chance for survival.
What To Do: Move victim to a half-sitting position in the shade and call for emergency medical help immediately. If humidity is below 75%, spray victim with water and fan vigorously. If humidity is above 75%, apply ice packs on neck, armpits or groin.
For more information, go to www.NSC.org.