Summer is finally here and we are sure feeling it in Colorado. While we all love to get outdoors and take part in summer fun, summer heat can be more than uncomfortable—it can be a threat to your health, especially for older adults and children. Whatever your age, don’t let the summer heat get the best of you and spoil your summer fun.
Here’s what you need to know to recognize, treat and avoid the twin threats of summer heat: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool the body, usually the result of not drinking enough fluids during hot weather or overexertion in the heat. It generally develops when a person is playing, working, or exercising outside in extreme heat. Symptoms include:
- Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Body temperature rising to 101°F
- Sweaty skin
- Feeling hot and thirsty
- Difficulty speaking
A person suffering from heat exhaustion must move to a cool place and drink plenty of water.
Heat stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion and can occur when a person ignores the signs of heat exhaustion.
- Unawareness of heat and thirst
- Body temperature rising rapidly to above 101°F
- Confusion or delirium
- Loss of consciousness or seizure
Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that must be treated quickly by a trained professional. Until help arrives, cool the person down by placing ice on the neck, armpits and groin. If the person is awake and able to swallow, give him or her fluids.
Avoiding Heat Illnesses:
- Stay hydrated by drinking water before you feel thirsty. The feeling of thirst occurs after your body is becoming dehydrated so it’s best to drink plenty of water to prevent thirst to begin with. Avoid caffeinated beverages as caffeine may increase dehydration in some people.
- Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing made of natural fibers and put on a well-ventilated hat.
- Avoid leaving air-conditioned areas in the middle of the day if you can. Instead, plan your outdoor activities in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Eat lighter meals and even cold meals as opposed to heavy, hot ones.
- Take a cool shower or apply a cold compress to your pulse points to cool down.
- Spend time in an air-conditioned area or indoors with a fan.