Mid-Summer is the perfect time to revamp your summer fun and go out and enjoy another camping trip with the family. It’s important to be able to get outside and enjoy the nice weather before winter returns, but with really high temperatures, comes a better chance of getting heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Heatstroke is the more severe version of heat exhaustion, but both are serious. They are both primarily caused by dehydration. Heat exhaustion does not cause permanent damage, while heat stroke is life threatening, and death can occur in as little as 30 minutes. Both illnesses are not something to take lightly, and it’s very important to know how to avoid getting them.
Your body begins to overheat when the weather is very hot and very humid. Your body knows to start sweating when it gets too hot to try to cool itself down. But when you add in humidity, it’s not as easy for your body to cool off, due to the sweat not being able to evaporate efficiently.
Very hot, humid days paired with extreme physical activity can lead to heat related illnesses if you don’t take the right precautionary steps.
Here are some tips to help prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke:
Hydration is key! It is so important to keep hydrated and make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Be sure to drink water before you actually feel yourself getting thirsty. Another way to stay on top of your fluid intake is to monitor your urine. The clearer, the better. If your urine starts becoming a dark yellow, or orange color, you’re dehydrated and need to drink more water. The average person should drink eight glasses of water a day, but during extreme heat, that number should be closer to between two and four glasses of water an hour.
Apply Sunscreen and Dress Appropriately
The darker the clothes, the more the sun is going to be attracted to you. Be sure you and everyone in your group is wearing light colored, loose fitting clothes. Aside from the pain and skin damage that comes with a sunburn, it also affects the way your body is able to cool itself down, making it less efficient. Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and to use sunscreen that protects against UVA as well as UVB.
Take a Break from the Sun
If you’re feeling like you need to rest for a bit, don’t hesitate. Find some shade to sit under, or a body of water that you can jump in to instantly cool yourself down. If you still want to be active, find a hiking route that has shade and access to water. Listen to your body, if you aren’t feeling right, be sure to take a break.
Changing Your Schedule to Work with the Hot Weather
Look at the weather forecast before you start your day off. If you have a bunch of fun activities planned, try to rearrange your day keeping in mind the hottest part of the day. For example, you could take your hike in the morning, when the sun isn’t as high, and it is still a bit cool. If you plan on going swimming, or having a water balloon fight, try to do that during the hottest part of the day to help everyone cool off while still staying active.
Know the Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
It’s definitely more important to use these prevention tips to avoid getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke all together, however, it is still vital to be able to identify the symptoms.
Heat Exhaustion: This is the effect of extreme loss of water and salt, usually through sweating. Someone experiencing heat exhaustion will be sweating very badly, weak, cold/pale/clammy skin, fast and weak pulse, nauseous/vomiting, and possible fainting. They may get goosebumps and complain of being cold.
Heat Stroke: The signs of heatstroke are more extreme and should be dealt with immediately. The signs include extreme confusion, sometimes unconsciousness, seizures, increased heart and respiratory rates, hot, red, wet skin. The body is unable to cool down, and can rise to 106°F or higher in as little as 10 minutes. Heat stroke can cause permanent damage or even death if emergency treatment is not given. The CDC defines heat stroke as a medical emergency and recommends that you call 911 immediately.
Be sure to tell everyone in your group about the steps you need to take to prevent heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Drink lots of water and look out for one another, part of this prevention is reminding your friends and family to do the same!