Heat-related illnesses and injuries can be avoided by learning to take caution when participating in outdoor activities and recognizing the warning signs of too much sun exposure. Public health officials urge residents to follow these basic prevention measures to avoid heat-related illness:
• Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
• Force the fluids. If you’re working or exercising outside, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends drinking up to 32 ounces of cool fluids every hour.
• Stay indoors if you can. Air conditioning is the best defense against the heat. If your home does not have air conditioning, find out if there are emergency cooling centers in your community, or spend some time at the mall or a museum.
• Know the warning signs of heat sickness. Symptoms vary, but typically include muscle cramp, fatigue, headache and nausea.
• Pay attention to the weather forecast. The National Weather Service issues heat-related alerts. Be aware of the weather forecast before you leave your home so you’re better prepared for the day ahead.
• Lend a hand. The elderly are more susceptible to the heat and sun’s wrath. If you know elderly people, offer to get groceries or accompany them on errands so they don’t have to withstand the heat alone. Check up on them periodically.
Even if you’re a fan of the hot weather, you’re still vulnerable to the summer sun. The American Cancer Society advises to stay mindful of UV rays and lather on sunscreen when spending time outdoors. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide to find out what protection is best for you.
APHA’s Get Ready campaign offers a fact sheet (PDF) in English and Spanish (PDF) on how you and your family can stay protected before and during a summer heat wave and what to do in case you show signs of symptoms.
Keep it cool!
Photo Credit:Photo by Gene Chutka, courtesy iStockphoto