Summertime usually means an increase in outdoor activities, whether they be work or pleasure. It also can lead to increases in heat stroke or other potentially serious hazards.
Under normal conditions, the body’s natural control mechanisms - skin, vascular system and perspiration - adjust to the heat. But those systems could fail if exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods.
The Mayo Clinic provides the following safety tips to help keep the body cool while in the summer sun:
- Limit exercise or strenuous physical activity to the coolest part of the day - usually early morning or late evening.
- Wear loose fitting clothing that’s both lightweight and light in color. Choose clothing that draws perspiration away from the skin, such as cotton T-shirts or shorts. Newer perspiration-wicking fabrics also are effective.
- Drink plenty of water, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to take a drink. A humans’ thirst mechanism kicks in only after it is significantly depleted of fluids. If exercising heavily in hot weather, aim for two to four glasses of water - or 16 to 32 ounces - every hour.
- Stay away from liquids that contain alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more fluid. Also, know that a drink that’s too cold might cause stomach cramps.
- If working, or playing in the hot summer sun, take a break in a shady area to cool down.
- Don’t overdo it. Start slowly and increase your pace gradually. In weather that’s extremely hot and humid, don’t exercise at too high a level. What is normal on a cool day might be dangerous on a hot day.
- Wear sunscreen. It’s harder for the body to keep sunburned skin cool. Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off the face and head. Sunscreen helps protect the skin from sunburn and keeps a person cooler too.
- Know the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.