As you may have already heard, the National Weather Service is predicting record breaking high temperatures for our area in the coming days! When it gets hot out, it’s important to be prepared. Staying cool when the weather is not is about more than being comfortable, it can be a matter of life and death.
At Performance Spine & Sports Medicine, we care about the health and safety of our patients and the community. Here are some safety tips to help protect you and your family when the thermometer starts creeping up:
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Use caution when going from air-conditioned indoor environments to outdoors when it’s hot. Allow yourself time to acclimate to the heat and seek out shady areas before venturing out into the sun!
Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.
Try to schedule your workouts in the early morning or late evening hours when the temperatures are lower. If possible, plan indoor workouts on hot days.
Most of us do not drink enough water already, but when the temperature is hot your body loses even more moisture trying to cool itself. You have to replace the fluids that you are losing! When you sweat, your body also loses electrolytes. Sports drinks like Gatorade are one way to replace them but they are also high in sugar. Diluting your sports drink with water is a good way to stay in balance. You can also try coconut water as a good source of electrolytes.
Eat smaller meals
Eating large or heavy meals puts a great deal of stress on your body. If you eat smaller meals more frequently, your body can save more of its energy to stay cool.
Dress for success
No, that doesn’t mean wearing your best suit out in the heat, it means choosing clothing that will help you manage the high temperatures. Light colored and loose fitting clothing are the best choices because they deflect heat and allow your body to breath. Cotton clothing is also a good choice when it’s hot because it pulls moisture and heat away from your body, helping you to stay cool.
If you must work outside, make sure that you take frequent breaks in a cooler environment. Use the buddy system if you are outside for work and help keep your friends and coworkers safe!
Monitor children and senior citizens
Heat takes a greater toll on the very young and old. If you have young children, make sure that they are staying hydrated and try to keep them indoors if possible. If you have older family members or neighbors, check on them frequently to make sure that they are managing the heat.
Remember your pets
Animals are also greatly affected by the heat. Try to keep animals indoors or in well shaded areas and make sure they have plenty of fresh water available at all times. Remember that enclosed environments like cars can become deadly for pets very quickly in extreme temperatures!
When the weather is hot, power failures can be absolutely devastating. To help ease the strain on the power grid, try to avoid high-energy requiring tasks like running the dishwasher or doing laundry during the day. Set your air conditioning at a tolerable level and keep blinds closed to block out the sun. If we all do our part to save some energy, then we can all stay cool during the heat wave!
And finally, but most importantly:
Know the risks
High temperatures come with the risk of heat related illnesses including sunburn, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you or someone you know is experiencing heat cramps, move them to a cooler place, give them small amounts of cool water to sip, encourage them to rest and watch for changes.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, excessive sweating, and moist, flushed or pale skin. If you notice someone who may be suffering heat exhaustion, move them to a cooler place right away! Loosen or remove tight clothing and apply cool wet cloths to the skin. Give the person small amounts of cool (not cold!) water to sip, but make sure they drink it slowly! If the person refuses water, vomits, or loses consciousness call 911 or your local emergency number.
If not caught early, heat exhaustion can quickly turn into heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life threatening illness! Signs and symptoms include hot, red and dry skin, vomiting, and losing consciousness. If you suspect someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately and apply cool, wet compresses or ice packs to their body.
Heat waves are a part of our changing weather but they don’t have to make you suffer. Follow these tips to help keep yourself and your family safe from the harmful effects of heat. If you would like more information, Google “Red Cross heat safety” to download a heat emergency preparedness checklist from the Red Cross.