Note: The following item was provided by Floyd Polk Medical Center Hospital Administrator Tifani Kinard. – KtE
Although summer is officially less than a month away, we have already had several days that have been in the 90s after a relatively cool start to spring. It’s easy to get overheated when you are aren’t used to extremely warm weather, but there are precautions you should take even in the hottest months.
Children under 2 and adults 65 and over tend to overheat easier than the rest of the population, so they need to be monitored when the mercury rises.
If possible, there are some steps they should take to keep their cool.
Those vulnerable to the heat should try to stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. For some folks that may not be easy because not everyone lives in a home or apartment with air conditioning. If you are fortunate and can afford it, don’t feel bad about letting it run. It’s better to pay a little more than get sick.
If you don’t have air conditioning in your residence, you can hang out somewhere that does. A trip to the mall, library or other public place can often result in a break from the heat when temperatures soar.
It may sound like a no-brainer but make sure if you are caring for a child or a senior citizen that they drink plenty of water. Children and older people can often be unaware of how they feel and sometimes won’t feel the need to drink until they are really thirsty. Often that means they might be dehydrated before they even know it.
If you think you are in such good shape and that you don’t need to take precautions on extremely hot days, you are mistaken. Even healthy people need to take steps to keep from getting overheated.
If you feel the need to get some outdoor exercise when the weather is sizzling, use common sense. Enjoy outdoor activities in the morning or evening, not during the hottest part of the day. Here in Georgia the coolest part of the day is usually right before or at sunrise, not 10 p.m. or midnight. Take a morning around 6 a.m. It will be relatively cooler, and you will get your workout in and not have to worry about it for the rest of day.
Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing when you are exercising outside. The black, spandex outfits might make you look trimmer, but on a sunny day they will also make you feel way hotter. A loose, white shirt and shorts will do the trick.
Pace yourself in the heat. Even if you are in great shape, start off slow. Don’t ignore muscle cramps. For many athletes they are the first sign of dehydration. If you find yourself cramping, cool down and drink some water. Also, keep an eye on your exercise buddies.
Heat cramps are also one of the first signs you might be getting overheated. Heat exhaustion is more serious and is marked by heaving sweating, cold and clammy skin, nausea, a fast or weak pulse, fatigue and dizziness.
Heatstroke is the most serious condition of being overheated. It can be accompanied by a high body temperature, racing pulse, confusion, dizziness, and nausea and sometimes people pass out.