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Beat the Heat

Published on Jun. 22, 2022

Extreme summer temperatures can put you at risk for heat-related illnesses. But you can still enjoy a safe summer by being careful when the weather heats up.

In this blog:

  • Who’s Most at Risk?
  • Ways to Stay Cool
  • If You Don’t Have Air-Conditioning…
  • How to Handle Heat-related Illness

Who's Most at Risk?

Your health, age, and lifestyle may raise the threat of a heat-related illness – such as heat stroke, cramps, or a rash. These factors may increase your risk:

  • Exercising in the heat
  • Children and seniors
  • Being substantially overweight or underweight
  • Poor circulation, inefficient sweat glands, and changes in the skin caused by normal aging.
  • High blood pressure or other conditions that need changes in diet. For example, people on low-salt diets may face an added risk (but don't use salt pills without asking your healthcare provider).
  • A long-term (chronic) health condition, such as heart, lung, and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes weakness or fever.
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Limited mobility, such as problems with walking that can make it hard to move out of hot environments.
  • Taking certain medicines that interfere with how the body normally responds to heat. The inability to sweat can be caused by some medicines, including water pills (diuretics), sedatives, tranquilizers, and some heart and blood pressure medicines.

Ways to Stay Cool

Focus on fluids

Drink plenty of cool liquids – and don't wait until you're thirsty. Here’s what to opt for:

Say Yes To:

Avoid:

Water

Alcohol

Low-sugar sports drinks

Caffeine

Plain or flavored soda water (you can add a splash of fruit juice for flavor)

 

If you’ve been told to limit your fluids, ask your healthcare provider about the best ways to stay hydrated.


Dress for the weather

Beyond choosing sleeveless tops and shorts, some people find natural fabrics such as cotton to be cooler than synthetic fibers like polyester. Light-colored clothes feel cooler than dark colors.

Avoid Outdoor Activities

Don't try to exercise, garden or mow the lawn, walk long distances, or do a lot when it's hot. Help children have fun with indoor activities that keep them out of the sun. Likewise, don't go to crowded places when it's hot outside.

Take cool baths or showers

Treating your skin to cooler water works wonders for lowering your body temperature.

Enjoy the water

Take advantage of our many lakes or enjoy some splash time under the sprinkler. Just remember to wear a hat and sunscreen. Apply your sunscreen in advance before getting wet so it has time to absorb.


If You Don’t Have Air Conditioning…

Here are some simple ways to stay cool if you don’t have air conditioning or it’s not in your budget to keep it turned up:

  • Open your windows at night – create a cross breeze by opening windows on opposite sides of the room or house.
  • Close the doors to rooms you don’t use.
  • Sleep in the basement if you have one or consider avoiding rooms on upper floors. Heat rises!
  • Remember to turn on your exhaust fans when you shower or cook.
  • Cover windows when they're in direct sunlight. Keep curtains, shades, or blinds drawn during the hottest part of the day.
  • Dampen your clothing with water and sit in the breeze from a fan.
  • Spend the hottest part of the day in an air-conditioned place such as a library, senior center, or friend's house.
  • Seniors: If you no longer drive, ask a friend or family member to drive you to a cool place on very hot days. Many towns or counties, area agencies, religious groups, and senior centers also supply these services. Please don't stand outside and wait for a bus.
  • Turn to local resources who can help you get window air-conditioning units or fans – or help you with cooling bills if you do have AC. See our list below.

Heat Illnesses: What to Look For

Heat stress, heat tiredness, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all forms of hyperthermia. This is the general name for a range of heat-related illnesses. Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Heavy sweating or clammy skin
  • Skin that is dry (no sweating), hot, and red
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Extreme weakness or tiredness

If you think someone has a heat-related illness:

  • Get the person out of the sun and heat and into a cool place – if possible, one that is air-conditioned.
  • Offer sips of fluids (except alcohol or caffeine). Water, sports drinks, and fruit and vegetable juices are best.
  • Encourage the person to sponge off with cool water.
  • Urge the person to lie down and rest, if possible in a cool place.

Is it Heat Stroke? Call 911

Call 911 or get emergency medical care right away if you suspect heat stroke. Possible symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Sluggishness or extreme tiredness
  • Seizure
  • Hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • High body temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Fainting (loss of consciousness)

Questions about Your Symptoms?

If you have immediate questions about your specific symptoms, call Munson Healthcare Ask-A-Nurse at 231-935-0951. Our nurses are answering questions daily from 7 am to 11 pm at no charge to you. 

Ask-A-Nurse   231-935-0951