Summertime is here again and Texas temperatures are already well on the rise. While some people are staying cool relaxing by the pool or traveling to cooler areas of the country or world, those braving the high temperatures need to remember a few safety tips to help beat the heat and stay healthy. Barbara Lazor, chief nursing executive at CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital offers this summer safety advice.
• Stay hydrated. Your body will lose significant amounts of water through sweating, exercise and normal bodily functions, so keep a bottle of water readily available. Also be cautious of caffeinated and sugary beverages, since caffeine causes you to lose fluids more quickly and sugar can slow your body’s ability to absorb fluids.
• Dress cool. Wear loose-fitting, light and light-colored clothing to help lessen the intensity of the sun’s heat, since dark colors absorb the sun’s rays.
• Take it slow. Stay indoors as much as possible and avoid intense exercise during the hottest parts of the day. If you must work outside, be sure to take frequent breaks to avoid heat exhaustion and use the buddy system when working in extreme heat.
• Be neighborly. Check on those who spend most of their time alone without air conditioning, especially those who may be most affected by the heat, such as children and the elderly. Also, never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles, since the heat can be fatal.
Remembering these simple tips can keep you healthy during the summer months, but emergencies can still happen anytime. Be aware of the following warning signs related to heat emergencies:
• Dehydration. When your body loses too much water, it begins to show signs of dehydration, which include dry mouth, excessive thirst, muscle weakness or cramping, infrequent or dark urination, dizziness, tiredness, headaches and others.
• Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor during high temperatures and humidity, and can be spotted by cool, damp, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
• Heat stroke. A potentially fatal condition in which a person’s temperature control system shuts down and the body is unable to cool, heat stroke is identified by hot, red skin that may be dry or damp, changes in consciousness, vomiting, and high blood pressure.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these heat illness symptoms, immediately move the person to a cooler place, and if conscious, give them small amounts of cool water to drink slowly. If the symptoms continue or worsen, dial 911 right away or visit the emergency room at CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital. For more information about CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital’s services, please visit www.christusstcatherine.org.