After a long, cold winter in the Midwest, warmer weather is finally here! Summertime allows us to enjoy a lot of fun outdoor activities (swimming, biking, boating, etc.), as well as some activities that might be considered less enjoyable (mowing, pulling weeds, etc.). However, whether you’re out enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer or you’re simply taking care of the chores, it makes sense to stay cool.
When the temperatures rise in the spring and early summer, it can take some time for our bodies to adjust to the hot weather. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself experiencing heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can be dangerous and possibly lead to heat stroke. However, it is predictable and preventable. Heat exhaustion happens when your body gets overheated (104 degrees or higher), and it can be caused by excessive physical exercise or simply by extremely hot weather conditions. Some of the symptoms you may experience are:
As with any health concern, be sure to contact your physician if you experience any of the symptoms above. Also, if you’re at increased risk, take extra precautions. High-risk groups include infants, young children, those who are physically ill, those who are 65 and older, and those that take medications.
Now, you know you aren’t going to stay inside in the air conditioning all summer long, so here are some steps you can take to avoid the heat when you’re out enjoying the beautiful weather:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat, and that will help you maintain a healthy body temperature.
- Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. I know it said to drink plenty of fluids, but these types of drinks can actually cause you to lose additional body fluids.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Wearing clothing that fits tightly or excess clothing will keep your body from cooling itself properly.
- Wear light-colored clothing. Light-colored clothing can help you keep cool by reflecting the sun’s rays.
- Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, if possible.
- Take frequent breaks. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity during the hot weather, take frequent breaks in a cool or shaded area to help regulate your body temperature.
Most heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes are preventable by using common sense and the tips listed above. Summertime is a great time to make memories with friends and family, so make sure you stay cool to make the most of your outdoor activities.