The blazing heat of summer is already here! A less than adequate spring and an un-humbling transition to the warm weather is already causing problems among many people who are catching it off guard. As temperatures continue to soar above the high 90’s and higher in the some parts of the nation, many people are unaware of how to take care of themselves during this excruciating heat. Here are a few tips so you and your family do not end up in the Emergency Room.
1. Avoid Heat during Peak Hours
Try to do all your work before 9am and after 8pm as the days the get longer and heat gets stronger. This includes exercising, gardening, walking the dogs, etc. It’s imperative to avoid the sun during it’s peak hours from 10am-4pm when the sun is at it’s hottest. It’s also a good idea during this time to be in a cool, well-ventilated area.
2. Always Wear Sunscreen
SPF with both UVA & UVB protection is essential in preventing skin cancer. Regardless of what ethnicity or race you are, you will burn! Always wear sunscreen and place it on 30 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun. Wearing SPF 50 with both UVA & UVB protection blocks about 98% of the sun’s UV rays. Any other SPF higher than that is about the same. Just ensure re-application every 2 hours while outside and during water activities. Children always have very sensitive skin so make sure infants and children are always protected! I always say no more than 10 minutes in the sun without SPF protection. There are now sunscreens available without Oxybenzone and parabens, which can disrupt hormones so be on the look out for those.
3. Hydration Hydration and more Hydration!
This can not be stressed enough. The human body is made up of about 60% of water. A healthy adult should drink about between 9-13 8 ounces glasses of water a day; 9 glasses/day for women and 13 glasses/day for men. During extreme heat and intense outdoor activity this number needs to be increased. Pregnant women need to take extra precaution and need to double their water intake during this time. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as sodas, teas, coffees and energy drinks as they can act like a diuretic and can lead to dehydration. Alcoholic beverages can act the same, so be mindful about your consumption. If you’re on any diuretic medication and if you have kidney or heart failure, talk to your physician about how much fluid intake is appropriate for you.
4. Protective Clothing is a Must
Wearing a hat, long loose fit and light clothing is also necessary. Protecting your skin from direct contact helps prevent skin cancer as well. Wearing a wide brimmed hat and sun glasses are essential in preventing UVA from damaging eyes and getting cataracts.
5. The Elderly are prone to heat related illnesses
Elderly people with multiple medical conditions and medications are more likely to end up hospitalized because of dehydration and heat related illnesses. This is also the case with patients on diuretics and beta blockers. Their body cannot compensate to dehydration as well as normal healthy adults especially if they are not in well ventilated environments. Children are also prone to dehydration especially with increased outdoor activity and decreased food and water intake. Monitoring both these populations a little more vigilantly can prevent a visit to the emergency room.
6. Consult your Primary Care Provider When needed
If you have signs or symptoms including weakness, fatigue, lethargy, dizziness, light hotheadedness, fainting, decreased urinary output, nausea, vomiting, or cramping then you need to consult your primary care provider. These are signs you or your loved one may be affected by the heat. Your physician will check your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing) and may check your blood and electrolytes and replace them with IV fluids if needed. This can be a fatal condition affecting your kidneys if not taken care of in time.