On my daily morning walks, I’ve noticed that temperatures have really started to climb. While hotter weather can lead to bothersome problems like sweat stains on your work clothes, the heat can also have much more serious effects. Too much time in the sun without drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and, in serious cases, heat stroke. Before we hit the hottest part of the season, I wanted to share a few tips to keep you from getting dangerously hot this summer.
Pack Some Water
Part of the joy of summer is shedding all of the cumbersome clothes you’ve been wearing all winter. Many people also want to ditch larger handbags and backpacks in favor of what fits in their pockets. The problem with this is that you also have less space for things like water bottles. While having hydration handy wasn’t a big deal during the winter when you weren’t sweating, you can lose large amounts of water when you spend time in hot sun. If you’re going out, bring a water bottle with you. There’s an amazing array of different shapes and sizes that will fit whatever you plan to take with you on your outings.
Drink When You’re Thirsty
While the traditional advice has been to drink a certain amount of water during the day, your body is the best judge of how much you need. Don’t worry too much about sipping on water if you’re not thirsty, but as soon as that thirst kicks in, you should be hydrating. Don’t just shrug this off. As your body becomes more dehydrated, it has a tougher and tougher time controlling your body temperature. That means that you might feel fine for a while, but you can rapidly move into the danger zone toward heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Water is the best rehydration, but if you really don’t like drinking water, try adding some flavoring, like lemon, mint or berries. Try to stay away from sports drinks, which can be high in sugar.
Avoid the Hottest Times of Day
If you’re planning to head outside, try to avoid being in the sun during the hottest times of the day. That’s normally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but the few hours from noon to 3 p.m. are normally the worst. If you’re going to go outside during that time, avoid doing any vigorous exercise and stick to the shade. Wearing light, loose clothing that is breathable and that keeps you from getting too hot and sweaty can also help to keep your body temperature down.
Know When You’re in Danger
Taking precautions are the best way to avoid getting in trouble, but sometimes you just can’t avoid being out and about when it’s hot. In those cases, it’s essential that you recognize when your body is in trouble so that you can cool yourself down. Here are some of the early signs of heat exhaustion:
- Muscle cramps
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling faint, dizzy or nauseous
- Having a headache
- Having a cold sweat or feeling like your skin is abnormally cold
If you or someone you’re with starts to have these symptoms, get them into the shade and get them something to drink. If they don’t get better within an hour, head to the doctor.
These signs of heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can be life threatening. If you think you or someone you’re with has heat stroke, call 911 and get them out of the sun. Symptoms can include:
- Stopping sweating altogether
- Red, flushed skin
- Racing heart beat
- Rapid breathing
The best thing you can do in this situation is cool down by whatever means possible. Drink cool water, cool your body with a wet cloth or wet clothes, and get into the shade. If you’re home, run a cool bath and get in. This will help to get your body temperature down.
If you take the right precautions, you shouldn’t have any issues this summer. Keep some water with you and get outside in the mornings and evenings rather than in the middle of the day. If you get in trouble, get out of the sun and get help. Most of all, enjoy the summer!