As the sun begins to stay out later and we shift our gears to summer, there are going to be more opportunities to get outside and enjoy the weather. The increase in outdoor activities, however, does bring with it an increase in sun exposure. The risk of sunburn, dehydration, and heat stroke become real dangers as we move our lives out of our homes and into the heat, and it’s important to be prepared for and aware of the warning signs.
We would like to remind our readers of some of the symptoms to watch out for, as well as talk about dehydration.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
- Heavy Sweating
- Muscle Cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cool, moist skin
- Fast and weak pulse rate
- Fast and shallow breathing
Heat exhaustion can happen after extended exposure to high heat, and, if untreated, can lead to heat stroke, which can have very serious complications. Heat stroke occurs when the body loses its ability to cool itself and requires emergency attention.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
- An extremely high body temperature (above 103 Fahrenheit)
- Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Throbbing Headache
Another condition that goes hand-in-hand with heat exhaustion is dehydration. Like both heat stroke and heat exhaustion, this is a condition that can be particularly dangerous for small children and the elderly. Some of the symptoms are the same, as well as methods of prevention. By keeping yourself hydrated when out and about in the heat, you’ll be one step closer to avoiding dehydration. It’s a good idea, however, to know what to look for, even if you feel prepared.
Symptoms of Dehydration:
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Decreased urine output
- Few or no tears when crying
- Dry skin
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
While all of these heat-related conditions are dangerous, there are many ways to protect yourself and still have fun. To avoid a potentially fatal situation, make sure you follow these tips:
Tips to Avoiding Heat-related Illnesses:
- Stay hydrated (be sure to pack water and limit alcohol and caffeine)
- Limit physical activity
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Take breaks at locations with air conditioning
- Limit exposure to the sun
- Wear hats and bring an umbrella to create some personal shade
If you or someone you are with is displaying symptoms of heat exhaustion or dehydration, it’s time to get indoors to cool off and drink some fluids. If symptoms of heat stroke are apparent, it’s time for the emergency room.
With a little preparation and some heightened awareness, you’ll be able to enjoyably and safely experience all the outdoor fun this summer.