With temperatures in and out of the triple digits this summer, it has become a hazard to be outside for extended amounts of time. When proper precautions like drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks aren’t followed, getting a heat-related illness is a real possibility. Here are some facts and things you need to know about heat-related illnesses.
Heat illnesses happen when the body is unable to regulate its internal temperature and gets too warm. This happens especially when it is extremely hot and humid outside. When conditions outside are hot enough, the body can stop sweating and start increasing in temperature. The body can also become dehydrated if not enough fluids are being digested throughout the day. You don’t need to be in a particular risk group or be outside for a very long time to have a heat-related illness.
Heat-related illnesses range in severity from a simple heat rash to a heat stroke. A heat rash is an area of irritated skin that turns red like a sun burn because of the heat. Heat syncope is the lightheaded and faint feeling a person gets from being exposed to the sun for too long. Heat cramps happen in the legs or abdomen normally when a rigorous activity is occurring outside in the hot and humid weather. Heat exhaustion is a mixture of a rash, syncope, and cramps along with more severe symptoms like heavy sweating, paleness, weakness, and nausea. Finally, heat stroke encompasses all of the previous symptoms along with confusion, difficulty breathing, and vomiting.
If you or anyone you know experiences any of the aforementioned symptoms, immediately head into shade or indoors. Drink lots of water and make sure to cool off. If it gets to the point of heat exhaustion or a heat stroke, the next step would be to call 911.
Getting sick from the heat can be life-threatening. In order to not have to worry about getting any of these symptoms, make sure to drink plenty of water even when not outside, wear light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight, take breaks if you do happen to be outside, and wear sunscreen.