As we edge our way closer towards the hot summer months, the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke increases. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an average of 618 people lose their lives to heat stroke each year
Before we go into how to stay cool in the heat outside, let’s first discuss heat stroke. This heat-related illness occurs when the body can longer regulate its core temperature, at which point heat continues to build while placing vital organs at risk for shutting down.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke Include The Following:
- Individual has stopped sweating
- Severe, migraine-like headaches
- Trouble speaking
- Dizziness and/or vertigo
- Skin that’s hot to the touch
- Elevated pulse rate
Sweating is the body’s natural defense mechanism against overheating. When an individual begins to overheat, he or she will sweat to cool off. The perspiration takes heat away from the body as it evaporates; thus, lowering the individual’s core body temperature.
Normally, sweating is an effective biological process that protects against heat stroke. In cases of heat stroke, however, the individual will stop sweating. And without sweat perspiring from the body, there’s no outlet for the heat to escape. Depending on the severity of the condition, their skin may feel dry and arid, which is a red flag of heat stroke. If you believe someone is suffering from a heat stroke, call 911 immediately!
Heat exhaustion is less severe condition associated with prolonged exposure to high heat. It’s characterized by the body’s loss of electrolytes. In cases of heat exhaustion, a worker will perspire his or her electrolytes, resulting a rapid pulse, excessive sweating, muscle weakness, vomiting, and lethargy.
Tips For Staying Cool Outside In The Summer Heat:
- Wear clothes made of light, breathable fabrics.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
- Limit your physical exertion.
- Stay in shaded areas when possible.
- Certain types of medication may increase the risk of heat-related illness.
- Wrap a wet towel around your head and neck for instant cooling relief.
- If you’re working outside during the summer, take a short 5-10 minute break every hour.
- Avoid drinking caffeine and/or sugary beverages.
- Wear light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight.
- When possible, work outside during the mornings when the sun hasn’t reached its peak yet.
Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of the dangers of heat-related illness and how to prevent them.