Every summer when the weather gets hot and humid, people suffer and can even die from heat-related illnesses. An individual can become ill from the heat if their body cannot compensate for it and properly cool off. Heat exposure is especially dangerous among young children, older seniors, athletes and outside laborers.
Dr. Thomas Waters, staff physician for Cleveland Clinic’s Emergency Services Institute, says there are tips you can take to avoid heat-related illnesses this summer and it starts with staying hydrated and being able to identify and immediately treat heat illness symptoms.
Some common symptoms of heat-related illnesses include muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, fainting, nausea and vomiting. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, it is suggested to move them to an air-conditioned room or shaded area and hydrate them with water or a sports beverage. It is also important to loosen or remove any heavy clothing and cool them off with ice packs or a cold, wet cloth.
“If there is a major mood change like irritability, confusion or disorientation, seek medical attention immediately and start to cool them off with ice packs to the armpits, groin and back of neck,” says Dr. Waters.
Dr. Waters further offers the following tips to prevent heat-related illness:
- If possible, stay in an air-conditioned indoor location.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially cool water or sports drinks but avoid alcohol.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully and be mindful of the hottest times of day.
- Take frequent breaks from the heat.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down after being in the heat.
- Never leave a child, person or pet in a closed vehicle in the summer.
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