Summer is the season for enjoying life and loved ones outdoors! As warm weather brings the excitement of a vibrant life outside the confines of our winter bungalows, it’s important to remember that it can, and likely will, get dangerously hot. Read on for safety-reminders on how to prepare for, prevent, and treat heat-related illnesses.
Love a good acronym? How about WRS: Water, Rest, Shade. It’s all about the prevention – and getting excited about hydrating, resting, and seeking out shade when outdoors is the best way to beat the heat and enjoy your Summer without any hiccups, disappointments, or worse – dangerous physical illnesses.
Heat Safety Tips
Princeton University Health Services recommends the following actions to stay safe in the summer heat:
- Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking water steadily; don't wait until you're thirsty.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol – these cause us to lose water more rapidly.
- Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors in an air conditioned space.
- Wear loose fitting, lightly colored and lightweight clothes.
- Check on friends and neighbors…you never know when someone might need help and not even know it.
- Give your heat-generating appliances like stoves and ovens a break, and your body will thank you for it.
- If you must exercise outdoors, only exercise in the early morning hours, before 8 a.m, or in the evening when it’s cooled off.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Check the local news and other outlets for important safety information.
- Call a Vantage Point team member to connect with local resources for seniors.
Signs of Danger
If despite your best efforts overheating does happen, it’s important to recognize signs and symptoms before it gets dangerous. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) identifies four stages of heat-related illness: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Heat Rash - It's an irritation to the skin caused by sweat buildup. While common, heat rash is usually treatable by getting individuals into a cool environment with good ventilation.
- Heat Cramps - Sweating causes a loss of body salts and fluids, which can lead to heat cramps. An individual suffering from muscle spasms or pain due to the heat should move to a cool area, rest and hydrate.
- Heat Exhaustion - If the body loses too much water and salt, heat exhaustion may result. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist skin, nausea, headache, dizziness, weakness and rapid pulse. Workers should immediately lie down in a cool area, drink lots of water and apply cold compresses or ice packs if available. If signs of heat exhaustion do not abate or worsen, the individual should go to the emergency room.
- Heat Stroke - Heat Stroke is a medical emergency. If an individual suddenly stops sweating and feels hot to the touch, becomes confused, faints or has seizures, call 911 immediately. Place the worker in a cool, shady area, loosen and moisten clothing, apply ice or cold compress; get the individual to drink water if conscious.
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