Prevent Heat Stroke This Summer With These Tips
Summer is in full swing, and with it comes the joys of vacations, parties, and tackling those long-forgotten projects around the house.
But with the warmth of the sun comes the dangers of heat stroke. Every year, thousands of people suffer from symptoms of heat stress and exposure (13).
Wondering how you can prevent heat stroke this summer while still enjoying the season? You’re in the right place.
This article covers tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy while making the most of your summer festivities.
What is Heat Stroke?
Your body does a fascinating job at keeping a balanced internal temperature of around 98.8 F. When your body begins to get too hot, it automatically activates mechanisms that help you cool off. One of these primary mechanisms is what we know as sweating.
The danger begins when you’ve either been in the heat too long or have physically exerted yourself in warmer temperatures. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition when your body loses the ability to cool itself down. This can lead to your body overheating to dangerous levels (1).
How quickly can this happen? Depending on your age, current health, and circumstance, heat stroke can begin as soon as 15 minutes after intense heat exposure (2).
Other heat-related illnesses are heat stress and heat exhaustion.
Signs and Symptoms
What’s the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion (3)? Heat exhaustion is one of the first stages your body goes through when dealing with sweltering environments.
Physical signs of heat exhaustion can be:
- Excessive thirst
- Headaches and dizziness
- Sudden fatigue
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
If not addressed right away, things can quickly progress to symptoms of heat stroke, including:
- Slurred words
- Loss of consciousness
While heat exhaustion can usually be alleviated with rest, fluids, and relocating to a cooler environment, heat stroke requires immediate medical attention.
How to Prevent Heat Stroke
Awareness and prevention are key to staying well this summer. And because heat stroke is so serious, how can you best avoid it?
It’s estimated that up to 75% of the US population suffers from dehydration (9). This means that on an average day, most people aren’t getting enough fluids to support optimal health and wellness.
Not only does it help keep our organs and tissues well-lubricated and functioning properly, but proper hydration also helps keep our bodies cool during warmer months.
Can you prevent heat stroke by drinking water? Yes, but it’s also important to ensure you’re getting electrolytes.
Not all beverages are created equal, either. Stay away from caffeinated drinks like coffee, alcohol, or soda. Instead, reach for drinks with a balanced ratio of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that replenish the nutrients you sweat out during the day.
Looking for easy, affordable hydration that’s delicious and works quickly? See why people are taking Pure I.V. with them wherever they go this summer (4).
Wear Loose Fitting Clothing
Keep your outfit choices lightweight and comfortable unless you’re attending a formal event. This will help your skin “breathe”, encouraging air flow and preventing that suffocating feeling.
Not sure what fits the bill? Opt for cotton or linen fabrics, and stay away from leathers, nylon, acrylic, and polyester (6).
Take Frequent Breaks at Work
Heat stroke in the workplace is a serious concern, especially if you live in climates that spike to triple-digit temperatures.
Certain occupations like construction, agriculture, landscaping, and summer camps are more at risk for experiencing signs of heat stroke. When working outside or in places frequently exposed to the elements, take breaks often. Talk with your manager about taking a few minutes every 30- 60 minutes to sit in the shade, catch your breath, and encourage coworkers to do the same (7).
Don’t Leave Anyone in the Car
It’s tempting to think you’ll only be a few minutes in the post office or department store, but leaving passengers in a hot car is never worth the risk.
Data reports from the National Safety Council show that car temperatures can quickly rise to dangerous levels, even if the air temperature outside is moderate (8).
Be Cautious with Medication
Certain prescription medications may increase your sensitivity to heat (11), raising your chances of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Take extra precautions if you’re currently taking:
- Antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs
- Blood pressure medication
- ADHD stimulants
Take Time to Acclimate
If you’re traveling this summer, take time to get used to your new environment. Heat stroke risk generally increases if you’re going from a cooler location to a much hotter location.
The best way to acclimate is to slowly spend more time outside over the next 1-2 weeks (10). Start small, and if you feel any hint of heat stress, dial back until you recuperate.
Know Your Limits
Everyone is different. What may seem like mild outdoor conditions to some may be rather severe for others. Don’t try to push yourself if you start to feel weak, thirsty, or crampy. Tell someone around you if you begin to feel nauseous or need to sit down a bit.
Knowing your limits doesn’t make you weak --- on the contrary, it empowers you to take a proactive approach to your health, averting a crisis before it begins.
Back to You
Summer is a memorable time for camping, swimming, beach trips, and more. Whether you plan to be out and about or enjoy a staycation, being aware of some of the risks of prolonged heat exposure will keep you and your loved ones safe.
Heat stroke affects people of all ages, but especially those who are on certain medications, have an outdoor occupation or are traveling to new areas.
Taking the time to acclimate, staying hydrated, and taking frequent breaks can help decrease your risk for experiencing this life-threatening condition.
Want a fun and easy way to stay cool this summer? Check out this watermelon ice cream recipe here (12).
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author