Hey EMS agencies: Looking to help spread the word about staying safe in the heat? Cut and paste this stock PSA to your own site or simply link to this page from your agency's social media page. Here are 5 tips on how to stay cool and healthy that not everyone has heard before.
You probably don’t need us to tell you this, but it’s really hot out there. It’s blazing hot, dangerously hot even. The heat our area is experiencing is affecting everyone, whether we feel it directly or not. While you probably know the basics on how to stay cool and healthy during heat waves such as this one, there are a few things that you may not have thought of yet that can help make this epic heat wave just a little bit more tolerable. Here’s what you need to know:
- You’re losing a lot more water than you realize – “Insensible” water loss, or water we lose through breathing, sweating, and keeping our skin, eyes, and mouth from drying out is markedly increased in hot temperatures. Humans lose a shockingly high amount of water this way during a heat wave. You have to proactively replace this loss of water and the fact is that most of us don’t. While the old adage that a person should drink “at least 8 glasses” of water a day may not hold up to scientific study, the Institute of Medicine still recommends that adults consume at least 91 ounces of water on any given day. It doesn’t all have to come from drinking it in, as some of this fluid comes from the foods we eat, and some fruits and vegetables are very high in water content and can hydrate you almost as well as a glass of water can. Drink more water and avoid soda pop and alcoholic beverages, as these can actually contribute to dehydration. The best way to measure hydration level is to monitor your potty breaks. You should be going to the bathroom for a “number one” at least four times per day and the color of the urine should be clear to a faint yellow. When your body is dehydrated it concentrates your urine. The darker your urine is, the more dehydrated you are. Keep it clear.
- Watch your kids too – Kids lose a lot of water in the summertime. Even short bursts of outdoor play can burn a lot of water off of a little one. Push fluids and encourage your kids to drink water, tea, and lemonade. Creative ways to get more water in your kids include supplying popsicles and Jell-O, which are both mostly water with a little flair. You can also have fresh strawberries, celery stalks, and watermelon which both add fruits and veggies to their diets while being an excellent source of quality hydration.
- Watch for dehydration and heat-related illness – In this heat you can become dehydrated quickly without realizing it. Dehydration is a serious medical condition that can sneak up on a person and make them sick before they know it’s happening. Mild cases of dehydration show symptoms after about 2% of one’s body water is lost. These symptoms can be a moderate to severe headache (like a hangover), dizziness or fainting when standing up, loss of appetite, dry skin, and constipation. You can also feel fatigued and generally ill. In more serious cases, you may experience a rapid heart rate and flushing of the skin. If you notice any of these symptoms, drink water and cool down. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel. Watch for confusion, weakness, and an absence of sweating because these could be signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which are serious medical conditions. If you believe that you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, move the patient to cooler temperatures and encourage them to drink cool fluids to replace what they’ve lost and bring down their body temperature. In serious cases, seek medical attention or call 911.
- Wear shoes – Invariably, when the sun blazes down this hard, the emergency rooms start seeing burns to people’s feet caused by walking barefoot on hot concrete. In fact, one ER in the state just had a case of significant burns a patient suffered from walking on hot sand at the beach. When the sun is this strong, resist the urge to go barefoot when you’re walking outside. Burns on the feet are more than just painful, they take a long time to heal and make walking anywhere less than pleasant. Be careful.
- Be smart about sunscreen – Most instruction labels on sun-protection products advise that you should apply before you go into the sun, and allow some time for the product to absorb into the skin and start protecting it. Read the label on your favorite sunscreen and follow the directions for the first application as well as the schedule for reapplying it. We’ve all been burned in the past but we can prevent it from happening again if we’re careful. You also should put on a hat and find some shade from time to time. A cherry-red hue isn’t in style this season..
Have fun this summer, but stay cool and be careful. Watch each other and make sure people are taking the heat seriously. It is dangerously hot out there. If you need us, we're here 24 hours per day to take care of any emergency needs. We’ll be here, but we hope that you can avoid us altogether by keeping yourself and your family cool and comfortable. Stay safe