Learn about heat-related illness and how to stay cool and safe in hot weather.
One of the best parts of summer is the opportunity to be active outdoors – whether it’s running, cycling or hiking. It’s also the season for marathons, and when sports teams start practicing for fall. And unfortunately, every year it seems we hear tragic news of a football player losing their life on the field due to heat stroke, or a runner collapsing at a race.
But it’s not just athletes who need to be on the lookout for heat-related illness. Physical exertion in the heat can be dangerous, for all ages. Anyone who spends time being active in the summer needs to be aware. This includes outside laborers such as roofers and landscapers; families visiting a theme park; and children playing outdoors.
Take measures to stay cool, remain hydrated, and keep informed. Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off. The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:
- High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
- Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.
Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Here are a few things you can do to stay safe when the heat is on:
- Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as you can. County Recreation Centers are a great option for staying inside with LOTS to do. Find one near you!
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Never leave children or pets in cars.
- Check the local news for health and safety updates.
Heat safety tips above via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.