Summer is a great time for outdoor fun and activities. But it is also a time when heat stroke and other ailments can strike with little warning.
“During prolonged periods of hot, humid weather, extra caution should be taken by the elderly, small children, and chronically ill persons,” said Cindy Frank, administrator of the Boone County Health Department. “They are especially susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Be sure they are able to move to a temperature-controlled room and remain hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.”
The Health Department offers these tips to avoid heat-related illnesses:
• Drink extra fluids such as water, fruit juices or lemonade, especially during very humid weather.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing (especially made of cotton, if possible) that does not interfere with the evaporation of perspiration.
• Eat small meals and eat more often. Decrease food high in protein, which increases metabolic heat.
• Try to engage in activities that involve strenuous labor in the evening or early morning hours to avoid the hottest part of the day, which is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If possible, stay in an air-conditioned environment during this time.
• In a home that lacks air conditioning, stay in the basement or lowest floor, close drapes to keep out the sun, or go to a shopping mall, library or other building that is air-conditioned.
• Never leave an infant, elderly or disabled person or even a pet in a parked car with the windows closed.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can be caused by spending too much time in the heat, include pale and clammy skin, heavy perspiration, dizziness, weakness, headache or cramps, nausea and fainting. Symptoms of heat stroke, which can be caused by over-exposure to direct sunlight, are high body temperature, skin that is red and dry, rapid pulse, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke can lead to death if untreated. An individual with any of these symptoms should see a physician as soon as possible.
To reduce over-exposure to sunlight during prolonged periods outdoors, remember to:
• Apply at least SPF 15 sunscreen and lip balm, especially on children.
• Wear a hat.
• Wear sunglasses with an ANSI rating of 99 percent, and 98 percent UVA protection. These ratings should be found on the label of the sunglasses. Also, wear sunglasses that are either wraparounds or close-fitting to prevent the sun from filtering from the side.
From the June 27-July 3, 2012, issue