Staying Safe in the Sun

Summertime weather means more opportunities to go outside and enjoy the sunlight. However, it could be easy to underestimate the effect of being in the sun for too long, especially as it gets brighter and more humid out. The CDC reports that while heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, more than 600 people in the United States die from it every year. Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury, and if suspected, immediately call 911 and try to cool down the victim with any means, such as with a cold shower or by using cold towels.

Long exposure to high temperatures combined with dehydration causes the body’s temperature to rise faster than it is able to cool down by sweating. The body can no longer sweat and if left untreated, heat stroke could damage organs and can also be fatal. Symptoms include hot, red, and dry skin but no sweating, nausea and dizziness, a rapid pulse, slurred speech, confusion, and a strong headache.

Young children, adults over 65 years, and overweight individuals are more susceptible to heat strokes. Physical exertion in hot weather, such as exercising or doing outdoor work, without proper hydration could also bring on heat strokes. Those with chronic illnesses could have increased risk, as well as those on certain medication, such as antidepressants, vasoconstrictors, or diuretics, which affects how the body responds to heat and hydration.

So you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, make sure to take some of these precautions, as suggested by the CDC:

  • Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothes that will allow the body to cool properly
  • Make sure you’re drinking enough water to replace the fluids lost by sweating
  • Remember to wear sunscreen, as a well as a hat or an umbrella to lessen sun exposure
  • Take breaks from being outside too long and spend time in the shade or near an air-conditioner
  • Never leave yourself or someone else, especially children and pets, in a sealed car, where temperatures can rise quickly.

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