- More and more Americans are at risk for heat-related illnesses due to the widespread occurrence of high temperatures.
- There are techniques to safeguard your safety during heat waves.
- Experts give tips for staying cool in hot weather.
Cities in the southwestern and central United States have endured record-breaking temperatures this summer. Approximately 105 million individuals are currently subject to a heat advisory or excessive heat warning. According to the National Weather Service, this summer will continue to have dangerous temperatures.
The frequency and duration of rising global temperatures have been growing for some time, and this tendency is likely to continue. Between 2000 and 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of individuals exposed to heatwaves increased by around 125 million.
Consider the following tips to be safe and relaxed in the face of potentially imminent excessive heat.
1. Recognize how heat impacts the body
The body’s temperature is influenced by external influences, such as the weather and internal heat generated by metabolic processes. As a result of blood vessel dilation, body heat can increase heart rate and blood flow to the skin, increasing perspiration.
“Heat dehydrates you mostly and raises your core temperature. Dr. Jen Brull, a family physician and board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Healthline, “When you are outside in the heat, your body will gradually lose fluids and heat up, which accelerates [the dehydration process].”
According to the World Health Organization, when the body cannot control its temperature owing to high heat, illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia can result.
2. Prepare ahead
According to Brull, planning can often prevent heat-related ailments. Before venturing into the heat, she advised considering and researching the following.
- What will the weather be like?
- How long will I be exposed to extreme heat?
- Will there be sun protection?
“[Use] weather-enabled apps or web pages to determine the temperature, whether there will be precipitation or cloud cover, and the heat index,” advised Brull.
3. Seek out protection and shade
If you intend to remain outside for an extended time, ensure a spot with shade, such as trees or a covered picnic area. Ideally, if a building has air conditioning, you should schedule regular breaks inside.
“Remember that shade does not require a physical structure. “Wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella will offer a person with local shade,” stated Brull.
Wearing light colors instead of dark hues can also relax you, as dark colors are warmer.
Winter is a perfect time to wear dark hues since they allow the sun to reach you and keep you warm. In summer, the opposite is true. You should wear light colors to reflect the sun and stay calm, as taught by Brull.
However, suppose your goal is to wear clothing that shields your skin from dangerous UV rays. In that case, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that darker or brighter colors are more effective than lighter hues at preventing UV rays from penetrating clothing and reaching your skin.
And while sunscreen will not prevent heat exhaustion, Brull recommends wearing it to prevent sunburn. A sunburn “will lengthen and slow the process of recuperating from heat.
4. Stay hydrated
Hydration helps the body maintain an average temperature, and as you sweat, drinking water replenishes the fluids you lose while cooling the body from the inside out. In addition to water, electrolyte-containing beverages can help prevent dehydration, according to Brull.
She advised avoiding beverages containing caffeine or alcohol in the heat, which exacerbate dehydration.
“Alcohol causes problems because it impairs your ability to perceive your body temperature and promotes dehydration,” said Brull.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCReliable Source) suggests the following methods for ensuring enough water consumption:
- Always have a water bottle with you.
- Freeze a water bottle that is freezer-safe and carry it with you.
- Add lime or lemon to the water to enhance its flavor.
5. Use extreme caution
Dr. Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic physician at Mount Sinai, recommends drinking water before, during, and after physical exertion in hot weather, such as hiking or playing a sport.
“When the exercise duration is shorter than one hour, water is the optimal beverage. “Drinking carbohydrate- and sodium-containing fluids after one hour can replace lost glucose and electrolytes,” she told Healthline.
She suggested building a baseline fitness level in a more fantastic location before training in the heat.
“Second, increase the hours and days of activity in a hotter climate gradually over many weeks. “Be sure to take many breaks and have cooling techniques like ice towels on hand,” said Colvin.
Additionally, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., reduce sun exposure and seek shade. If you must be outdoors during these hours, take steps to avoid sun exposure by reapplying sunscreen and wearing a hat, sunglasses, and appropriate clothes.
“Also, take frequent pauses,” Colvin said.
6. Recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Knowing the symptoms that could signal a significant heat-related disease enables you to seek medical attention when necessary. Two conditions require specific attention:
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses water and salt, typically through profuse perspiration.
Heat stroke occurs when the body cannot regulate its temperature and cannot cool itself through perspiration.
The CDCReliable Source identifies the following as essential warning indicators for each ailment.
- A high body temperature that reaches or exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
- Rapid, robust pulse
- Experiencing passing out
- Heavy perspiration
- Skin that is cold, pallid, or clammy
- Rapid, feeble pulse
- nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- fatigue or feeling weak
“If you are experiencing severe heat-related symptoms, you should immediately seek shelter and call 911,” said Brull.