The heat is sweltering, and – while it may seem like only a minor discomfort – extreme heat can be a serious threat to your health. In fact, heat-related illness accounts for more than 700 deaths in the U.S. each year, with young children, people over 65, and those with chronic illness being the most susceptible. But with the right precautions, you can keep yourself cool, hydrated, and safe in almost any situation.
Limit Outdoor Activity
The easiest way to avoid the harmful effects of extreme heat is to stay inside an air-conditioned building. Fans help somewhat, but they won’t suffice as your primary cooling device on the hottest of days. If you have work or activities that require you to be outdoors, try to reserve those tasks for early or late in the day when the temperature is cooler.
Heed the Warnings
If you know you’re going to be outside on a particular day, closely monitor the local news and weather reports for health and safety updates. Consider downloading a smartphone app that will alert you when temperatures venture into the extreme.
Before going outside make sure you’re properly attired for the heat. Opt for lightweight clothing that’s also light in color, which will reflect rather than absorb the sun’s rays. Apply sunscreen, and reapply if your sun exposure is prolonged. Once you’re back inside, refresh yourself with a cool bath or shower.
When temps are high you’ll want to drink more water than usual. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Consider supplementing with a sports drink or fruit-infused water for added hydration, just nothing too sugary.
If your time outdoors involves vigorous activity, be sure to start slow and then gradually pick up the pace. Too much too soon can be a recipe for disaster. If you start to notice any warning signs or symptoms of heat-related illness, let someone know immediately or call 911.
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Look Out for Others
It’s always a good idea to warn those in your life who might be at risk when extreme heat is a threat. Check on elderly friends or neighbors. Keep an eye on teammates. Make sure pets have adequate water and are never left in a vehicle.
Wishing you a safe, happy, and healthy rest of the summer!
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