Summertime Safety: Staying Cool and Safe in the Summer Heat

 Summertime is here! The last school bell has rung, or the last Zoom meeting is over, and now it’s time to have some fun in the summer sun. But, if you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, the weather has been a bit on the extreme side. Areas like the south and the east coast are starting to get warmer a bit sooner this year. So, before you and your family make those outdoor plans, it’s important to take the proper steps to deal with this heat.

          As someone who has lived in the south all his life, I know a thing or two about how dangerous the heat can be. The two biggest dangers we hear about are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Probably one of the most dangerous things these two conditions have in common is that they can sneak up on you fairly quickly, even when you think everything is fine. Here are some of the warning signs you and your family should watch out for and how to keep these two dangerous summertime issues at bay.

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

          Recognizing the signs of either of these two dangerous conditions is important in not only to help someone recover quickly, but also prevent overheating that could potentially become fatal if not resolved quickly enough.

          If there is a less dangerous condition out of the two, heat exhaustion would be the one. Some of the signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Dizziness & Fainting
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Cool, pale clammy skin
  • Muscle Cramps

If you see anyone suffering from the classic signs of heat exhaustion, it is best to get the person to a cooler area, preferably a space that is air conditioned. Provide them with cool water, but make sure they don’t drink it too quickly. Finally, use cold compresses or have them take a cool shower to lower their body temperature. 

Heat stroke is a far more serious condition and the symptoms can feel worse than heat stroke. The common signs for someone suffering from heat stroke include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • No signs of sweating
  • Elevated body temperature of 103 or more
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Loss of consciousness

It’s important to call 9-1-1 immediately in the event you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke. Do everything you can to cool the person down as much as possible until help arrives. An elevated body temperature can be very dangerous and needs to be lowered as quickly and safely as possible.

Staying Safe and Cool

          Thankfully, both heat exhaustion and heat stroke are easily preventable if you take some very simple precautions when you’re out in the summer sun. 

          When it comes to staying cool, the first rule is: hydration, hydration, hydration. Make sure you and your family are drinking plenty of water when you’re spending time outdoors. Sports drinks are a great option if you have young athletes who are conditioning or playing games in the heat. Sports drinks help replace electrolytes you lose while you’re sweating. 

          But if you’re anything like me, you might find water just a bit boring since it’s just too plain. To add some flavor, try adding some flavor packets or liquid water enhancers to your glass or sports bottle. You can also try infuser bottles which take the flavors of fresh fruit and slowly infuse the water with natural flavor. 

          Everyone knows summertime food is one of the best parts about being outside. When it comes to staying cool with food, fruits are a healthy choice. Eating fruit like watermelon that’s loaded with juice is a great alternative to water. Cool fruit, ice cream, and snow cones are also delicious ways to beat the heat when you combine them with proper hydration. A delicious fruit salad is also a great option if you’re looking for foods that will keep your family cool.

          Of course, spending plenty of time in the shade, jumping into a swimming pool, and playing in a splash pad is a perfect way to cool your body down. If you start feeling a bit warm, drink something cool and put a wet towel on your head to help cool yourself down. If you start feeling like being in the shade isn’t helping, it’s best to move into some air conditioning quickly, and call for help if you start feeling ill.

          And lastly, while you and your family are doing your best to stay hydrated and cool this summer, you can’t forget about protecting the most exposed part of your body: your skin. Many people overlook skin protection and don’t realize the sun can do serious damage to your skin in a short amount of time, especially for people who are fair skinned. That’s why it’s important to always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when spending time outdoors.

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