You know that feeling when you get in your car on a hot July day, and it feels like you’re sitting on the surface of the sun? Yeah, we do, too. It’s brutal and uncomfortable, but it can actually be bad for your health if you’re not careful.
The average normal body temp is 98.6° F, and according to healthline.com, the surrounding environment needs to be 82°F to for the body to maintain a healthy core temperature. So, when the outside temperature is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than that, which is a common reality in the summer months in the South, how do you stay healthy?
It’s important to know that some people are at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses. Seniors (people 65 and older), children and those with chronic medical issues need to take extra precautions to protect themselves. Some medications may make it harder for the body to cool off in extreme heat, so talk with your doctor about this possibility. Additionally, those with certain jobs or hobbies that involve a lot of outside work, like construction workers, athletes, farmers, military personnel, etc., are also at a greater risk of suffering heat-related illnesses.
Whether you fall in the high-risk camp or not, you still need to be aware of how to protect yourself and others.
How do you stay healthy when it’s hot outside?
Luckily, most heat-related incidents are preventable. Keep these four hot-weather tips in mind and enjoy a safe summer.
The number one tip for staying safe in the heat is drink that H20. Drink more water than you think necessary, and do not wait until you’re thirsty to begin hydrating.
2. Avoid outside during certain hours of the day
The sun is highest at noon, but according to Almanac.com, that’s when the temp is just starting to heat up. From noon to 3 p.m. is when temperatures are rising the most, with 3 p.m. being the hottest time of the day. Knowing this can help you plan your summer events to avoid being outside around this time.
3. Wear Proper Protection
4. Take it Easy
Sunscreen and proper clothing can help keep your body cool. Sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and, according to the CDC an SPF of 15 or higher with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection is best. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside, and reapply every two hours.
Whether you’re outside for work or play, pace yourself and don’t overextend your activity. In times of extreme heat, take frequent breaks from physical activities and get in the air conditioning whenever possible.
What is a heat illness?
High humidity and extreme heat (typically above 90° F) can make your body work extra hard to maintain a healthy core body temperature. The most common types of heat illnesses, according to Cleveland Clinic are:
1. Heat Rash
A heat rash is a stinging skin irritation that can turn your skin red.
2. Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms.
3. Heat Exhaustion
Signs of heat exhaustion are a fast and weak pulse, heavy sweating, and rapid breathing.
4. Heat Strokes
The most severe and life threatening of heat illnesses, a heat stroke can happen when your body reaches 106° F within a few minutes.
What to do if you or someone is suffering from a heat-related illness?
Call 911 right away if you suspect a heat stroke as they can be life threatening. According to CDC.gov, those experiencing heat-related illnesses should move to a cooler area, stop physical activity, loosen clothing, and try to cool down with cold towels or cloths (unless you’re dealing with heat rashes as you should keep the rash cool and dry).