Keeping Your Family Safe From Summer Heat

When the days get longer and warmer, the dangers of heat-related illness during outdoor activity also rises. From heat exhaustion to stress injuries, your family is at an added risk of experiencing serious heat-related injury during the summer months. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, heatstroke is the most serious heat-related disorder which happens when the body can no longer control its temperature. After just fifteen minutes in high heat, body temperature can rise enough to cause heatstroke and in the most extreme cases, death. 

To help keep you and your family safe, we put together the following tips and insights to ensure everyone is informed on the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

What is heat illness?

There are four main types of heat illness  

  • Heatstroke — the most serious heat-related problem occurring when the body’s temperature-regulating system can no longer work properly and body temperature can rise over 104°F. The signs of heatstroke are confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures — if you see someone experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Heat exhaustion — similar to heat stroke, exhaustion is when the heat takes a toll on the body to the point where you can no longer operate normally. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, confusion, thirst, heavy sweating, and a body temperature over 100.4°F. If you see a family member experiencing these symptoms, remove them from the heat, ensure they’re properly hydrating, and have someone stay with them until their body temperature regulates.
  • Heat cramps — muscle pains due to loss of salts and fluids as a result of excess sweating. To help relieve cramps, hydrate, and take a break from working in the heat. 
  • Heat rash — this is the most common problem in heat-related environments and is caused by sweating. With heat rash, small clusters of blisters may appear on small parts of your body. To treat it, move to a cooler, less humid area and apply powder to any irritated areas. 

Signs and Symptoms

Catching signs of heat-related illness early can be lifesaving.  The key signs to look out for are nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, chills, rapid shallow breathing, disorientation, red face and skin, fainting, grayish skin, and dry skin.

How To Protect Yourself

There are many ways to protect yourself from the above mentioned heat-related injuries, and the first step is to keep a close eye on the weather and prepare for extreme heat. If you know it’s going to be an especially hot or humid week, minimize your outdoor activities as best you can and plan ahead for extra breaks. If you can, try and schedule physical tasks for days that are cooler and less humid. If you do have to be outside, here are some tips to help you keep cool:

  • Wear a hat and a breathable, light-colored, cotton long sleeve shirt and pants.
  • Wear sunscreen and re-apply it often.
  • Alternate between sports drinks and water to ensure you get enough electrolytes.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine before you plan to be outside for long periods of time as they can dehydrate you. 

We hope these tips will help you protect yourself and your family as you enjoy the great outdoors during the summer months.

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