Hot weather is certainly here and with it comes to the risk of heat-related injuries and illnesses. I’ve addressed this topic in this blog before, but this time, I’d like to take it a step further. Heat-related injuries and illnesses can be prevented. First, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activities. Second, use sun screen on exposed skin. Third, do not consume dietary supplements, alcohol, or caffeine before you are exposed to heat for a prolonged period. These may cause the body to get rid of fluids.
Sunburn is the most common heat-related injury and is a burn on the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These burns cause inflammation of the skin, blistering, and pain. Sunburn can occur with as little as 30 minutes of exposure. To prevent sunburn or lessen the effects of sun avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the peak hours for harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. When outdoors wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-protective sunglasses. Use sunscreens rated SPF 15 for exposed skin to protect it from burns. Apply the sunscreen liberally, uniformly, and frequently. First aid is to get in out of the sun, drink fluids and use lotions or sprays to cool the pain of the burn. If the burn is associated with blisters, seek medical attention to prevent infection.
Dehydration is the most common of heat-related illnesses. People dehydrate when they don’t replace the fluids lost when they sweat. Symptoms include thirst, headaches, and fatigue. To prevent dehydration replace lost body fluids by drinking water. Some sports drinks are also good to drink. As I recommended earlier, don’t drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks because they contain caffeine and cause the body to get rid of fluid instead of retaining it. I will also say again that alcohol is also bad because it causes the body to rid itself of fluids. First aid is to rest in a cool place and drink water to replenish lost fluids. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
High humidity can also be a factor even without extremely high air temperatures; 70% of heat stress is due to humidity, 20% due to solar radiation, and only 10% to air temperature.
Seek medical attention promptly when you:
– Do not recover from dehydration after replenishing fluids.
– Have any change in mental status, such as disorientation.