Protect Yourself from Heat-Related Illness

July 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

The heat is on, and warm weather means more activities and fun in the sun. Whether you love putting on shorts and feeling the warm outdoors, or find it hot and sticky, everyone must be careful not to let a heat-related illness spoil the day.

The body has ways of keeping itself cool by letting heat escape through the skin and by evaporating sweat. But if the body doesn’t cool properly or not enough, you may suffer a heat-related illness. Anyone can be susceptible, although the very young and very old are at greater risk. Heat-related illnesses can become serious or even deadly if unattended.

The American Red Cross recommends the following tips for preventing heat-related illness:

  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear a hat or to use an umbrella.
  • Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Stay indoors when possible. The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is to stay out of the sun and heat.
  • Take regular breaks. When engaged in physical activity on warm days, make sure to take regular breaks to find shade and hydrate.

If you recognize the signals of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!

Entry filed under: Safety.

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