How To Beat the Summer-Time Heat
Summer is officially in full swing. But don't let the increased heat and humidity bat you down!
young, the elderly, especially those with chronic diseases, and those
who work or exercise vigorously outdoors are especially at risk," said
Christine Grant, New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services
commissioner. "But anyone exposed to heat can develop heatstroke, heat
exhaustion or other heat-related illnesses. And in the summer, more
people than ever are participating in outdoor activities.
the most serious of these illnesses, occurs when the body loses the
ability to cool itself. Victims can go from being apparently normal to
being extremely ill in a matter of minutes. They will have a high body
temperature (106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher), very hot and dry skin,
a rapid and strong pulse, and may be delirious or unconscious. People
suffering heatstroke need immediate medical attention.
exhaustion is a milder illness that may take several days of high
temperatures to develop. It occurs when the body's water and salts lost
through perspiration are not adequately replaced. Victims may have
pale, clammy skin and be sweating profusely. They may feel tired and
weak, dizzy, have a headache and sometimes cramps, but their body
temperature is close to normal. Heat exhaustion can be severe enough to
"There are a
number of steps people can take to guard against these illnesses,"
Grant said. "One of the most important things to do is to drink plenty
of fluids, even if you aren't thirsty. When the body is under stress
from heat, you may need up to 50 percent more to drink than your thirst
"But stay clear of drinks with alcohol or caffeine," Grant warned. "Such drinks can lead to dehydration."
Other advice for avoiding heat-related illness, the department said, includes:
- Spend a
few hours in an air-conditioned place -- such as a shopping mall or the
library -- to help cope with hot, humid weather.
- Check on
elderly relatives and neighbors to see if they need help taking proper
heat precautions, or if they need medical attention because of the
heat. Be sure individuals who are bedridden or have mobility problems
have adequate fluids within easy reach.
- If you are elderly or otherwise at risk, take advantage of any air-conditioned shelters that are set up during heat waves.
- Take care
not to overdress children and to give them plenty of liquids to drink
throughout the day. Children under age 5, particularly those under age
1, are especially sensitive to the effects of heat.
leave children, a frail elderly or disabled person, or pets in an
enclosed car -- not even for a minute -- as temperatures can climb
quickly to dangerous levels.
possible, reduce physical activity or reschedule it for cooler parts of
the day. Wear loose and light-colored clothing. When in the sun, be
sure to wear a hat or head covering.
with your healthcare provider before taking salt tablets. Salt
supplements are not necessary for the general public, although those
who regularly work under very hot conditions should consider drinking
fluids supplemented with the appropriate salts.
- Talk to
your healthcare provider about any medicine or drugs you are taking.
Certain medications, such as tranquilizers and drugs used to treat
Parkinson's disease, can increase the risk of heat-related illness.