Playing It Safe This Summer

Playing It Safe This Summer

kid playing in sprinklerWe all know that you must wear a life jacket when you’re playing on the water, and helmets when biking and playing contact sports. You also protect yourself from mosquitoes and regularly check for ticks. But have you thought of guarding against the summer heat?

Heat-related illnesses are the result of being exposed to high temperatures and humidity without a cool-down break and without sufficient hydration. Children and the elderly are most at risk, but everyone is susceptible when the temperature rises above 90 degrees and the humidity rises with it. Illnesses resulting from the hot weather occur when the body is not able to transfer enough heat out of the body by sweat and blood flow to keep us cool. Below are three types of heat-related illnesses that are not only harmful to your health, but can be deadly.

3 Types of Heat-Related Illnesses

  1. Heat Cramps—painful muscle cramps and spasms due to the body being depleted of water, salt and electrolytes from sweating.
    Symptom—the skin becomes flushed and moist.
    Treatment—find a cool place indoors or move to the shade; drink sports drinks or juice; place cool cloths on the skin; stretch cramped muscles.
  2. Heat Exhaustion—the body is unable to cool itself due to loss of water and sodium. If not treated, heat exhaustion, or heat prostration, can progress to heatstroke.
    Symptoms—muscle cramps; fever of 100 degrees or higher; pale, moist skin; nausea; vomiting; fatigue; weakness; confusion.
    Treatment—the same as for heat cramps. If the person shows no improvement, call a doctor, or go to your local ER immediately.
  3. Heatstroke—this is the most severe form of heat-related illness, and is a medical emergency. Heatstroke, or sunstroke, occurs when the body’s heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat and humidity. This condition is life-threatening and requires swift medical attention.
    Symptoms—body temperature of 104 degrees or higher; rapid heart rate; nausea and vomiting; fatigue; headache; confusion; seizures.
    Treatment—remove excess clothing and move to a cool place; gently pour cool water over the skin, and place ice packs around the body.

Luckily, heat-related illnesses are preventable. Follow these simple, common-sense tips to play it safe this summer:

  • If possible, avoid the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM
  • Increase your fluid intake when out in the heat. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
  • Pace yourself—engage in exercise and strenuous activities in the cooler parts of the day and know your limits
  • Eat lighter, more frequent meals
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
  • Rest often in cool places or the shade
  • Cool off with a cool-water shower or bath
  • NEVER leave anyone, or pets, in parked vehicles

Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury or death if medical attention is not secured. Paris Community Hospital is your local healthcare facility when you require immediate medical assistance. Serving Edgar County residents for nearly 50 years, Paris Community Hospital cares for you—our family, friends, and neighbors. With a weekend, walk-in clinic and specialty providers available, we are here to meet your many healthcare needs. Have fun in the sun, and play it safe this summer.