Meadville Tribune

July 29, 2011

How to stay cool, safe in scorching heat

Record-setting heat can be dangerous


CNHI

July 29, 2011 8:27 p.m. BIRMINGHAM — Temperatures across the country are soaring as 15 states were under heat advisories Monday, with highs expected to reach at least 105 degrees. To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are important:

Drink plenty of fluids: During exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 oz.) of cool fluids each hour. Also consider drinking a sports beverage to replace salt and minerals lost during sweating. Avoid alcohol and drinks that contain large amounts of sugar, as they can cause you to lose more body fluid.

Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.

Schedule outdoor activities carefully: If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas so that your body's thermostat will have a chance to recover.

Stay cool indoors: If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library -- even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area. Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

Use a buddy system: When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.

Monitor those at high risk: Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. These include infants and young children, people 65 and older, those who are overweight and those who are ill or taking certain types of medicine. Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching.

Do not leave children or pets in cars: Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death. Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat, and when the child is strapped in, move it to the front passenger seat so you do not forget the child is in the car.

Information from CDC.gov