Beat the Heat with These Hot Weather Safety Tips
Heat preparedness information from Public Health - Seattle & King County
When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illnesses rises.
These illnesses occur because our bodies are sometimes not able to cool themselves down quickly and they overheat.
In severe instances, you can suffer heat stroke, which can be fatal or have permanent effects if emergency treatment is not provided.
Who's at Risk?
Older adults, young children, and people with mental health conditions and chronic diseases are at the highest risk for heat-related illness.
However, anyone can suffer in the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
How to Protect Yourself from the Heat
You can protect yourself and your loved ones against very hot temperatures by following these recommendations:
- Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, library, movie theater or other cool public places.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
- Dress in lightweight clothing.
- Take a cool shower or bath, or place cool washcloths on your skin.
- Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives to take these precautions too.
- Drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar because they can actually de-hydrate your body.
- Have something to drink with you at all times, and sip or drink frequently. Don't wait until you're thirsty.
If You Go Outside
- Limit the time you're in direct sunlight.
- Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.
- Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.
- Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.
- Avoid getting sunburnt by using a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.
If You Take Medications
Certain medications may increase sensitivity to the heat. If you are concerned about the heat and the medications you are taking, check with your doctor.
Do not take salt tablets unless your doctor tells you to.
Some people turn to local rivers to cool off, but drowning is a real concern. Please use caution and wear a personal flotation device (PFD) on the water.
If you want to swim, choose a safe location like a local pool or a lifeguarded beach.
Recognizing Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
When people's bodies can't cool themselves quickly enough it can cause heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Muscle cramps
If you see someone with signs of overheating, move the person to a cooler location, have them rest for a few minutes and then slowly drink a cool beverage. Get medical attention for them immediately if they do not feel better.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Nausea, confusion and unconsciousness
If you see any of these signs, get medical help immediately.
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