Keep your Summer Sweet and Don’t Overheat

This year’s summer hot spell has hit record numbers. Extreme heat temperatures can be dangerous for everyone, young or old. Do not let the summer heat stop you from enjoying your summer. We are so busy trying to stay cool, that we forget the harshness of heat stress and illnesses that come with summer. The following is a great reminder of how you can enjoy your summer and defeat the heat.

Heat exhaustion vs Heatstroke

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body overheats and causes the following symptoms: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, and dizziness. If these symptoms are not treated properly, a person may become at risk for heatstroke.

Heatstroke occurs after the body temperature has risen over 104 degrees F or higher. Once a person’s body gets to this degree their mental and behavioral state can become altered and associated with flushed skin, vomiting, rapid breathing, and racing heart rate.

Both illnesses can be preventable. Here are some ways you can avoid them:

  1. Stay Hydrated. Your body loses a lot of fluid by sweating and you must remember to replace that fluid. It's good to practice keeping a water bottle with you all day, taking sips, and refilling your bottle throughout the day with cool (not ice) water so you will remain hydrated. You should drink water before you even get thirsty – this helps keep your body cool while outside.
  2. Time activities and take breaks during. To ensure you do not get overheated in the sun, timing your outdoor activities, before 11 AM and after 4 PM, can help you avoid the hottest times of the day. You should also take frequent breaks if you will be outside for longer periods.
  3. Move indoors. If the heat is too much for you, finding an air-conditioned place like a gym or mall will keep you cool. (For Medicare beneficiaries, some Medicare Advantage plans may offer gym memberships).
  4. Use the buddy system. Enjoy the company of a friend while you do your outdoor activity. You can also watch for the signs of heat exhaustion.
  5. Skip the oven. Prepare cold foods for your summer recipes that do not require the oven. The oven can warm up your home and body quickly and that’s less cool air getting to you when you needed.

Click here for more information on heat stroke prevention.