Hot Weather Safety

Whew! It's Getting Hot!

Whether the activity is sports related like running or cycling, or work related such as lawn care or facility maintenance, considering the increasing temperatures outside is important for overall health.  Exercising or working in the heat puts a stress on the body greater than what may be experienced due to the increased activity alone.  When we are active in hot environments the body naturally protects itself through the sweating process. If you are exposed to high temperatures for too long, and your body becomes dehydrated, it could lead to heat related health conditions.  Such conditions include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and the most severe, heatstroke.  It is important to be aware of the warning signs and symptom of heat related illnesses.  According to the Mayo Clinic the following signs are indicative of a heat related illness:

·         Muscle cramps

·         Nausea/vomiting

·         Weakness

·         Fatigue

·         Headache

·         Dizziness

·         Low blood pressure

·         Increased heart rate

·         Vision problems

·         Sweating extensively or not at all

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to stop exercising or working and get out of the heat immediately.  You will also want to remove any extra clothing, place cool cloths or ice packs on skin, and drink plenty of fluids.  If you are in a location you can use a hose or shower, spray yourself with water, or sit in a tub with cold water. 

As with many health issues the best defense against health related illness is prevention.  The following general precautions that may be taken to minimize the risk of heat related illnesses:

·         Limit outdoor activity to the morning and evening hours.

·         Get acclimated. 

·         Drink plenty of fluids.

·         Wear clothing that is light color, and made with breathable fabrics.

·         Cut down on exercise intensity.

·         Understand your medical risks.

·         Don’t forget the sunscreen! 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a comprehensive website focused on extreme heat and your health at http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/. And if you are working to educate others, a media toolkit at http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/materials.html. Please continue to enjoy your outside activities during the summer months.  Now you are prepared to identify if you are experiencing symptoms of a heat related illness, as well as work prevent it from ever occurring.