You don’t need us to tell you that it gets hot in Kentucky during the summer. One step outside and you can feel it, yet even we were surprised when The Weather Channel’s data showed that Kentucky had the highest heat index in the country around the 4th of July holiday.
When the days heat up, the CDC recommends staying indoors with air conditioning and scheduling outdoor activities for morning or evening hours. Unfortunately, avoiding the heat altogether is not possible during the busy summer months. Whether you are enjoying vacation or running errands, if you have to spend time out in the heat it’s important to take precautions to avoid serious heat-related illness.
Heat exhaustion vs Heatstroke: Signs of heat-related illness
Often times, heat advisories warn young children, pregnant women, elderly individuals, and those who are physically ill to take special precaution on hot days. However, anyone is susceptible to heat exhaustion, and even heatstroke, when temperatures rise and safety tips aren’t followed.
To protect your family from serious heat-related illnesses it is crucial to know the signs of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heatstroke, which is the most serious heat-related illness. If not addressed quickly, heat-related illnesses can have serious health consequences, and can even be fatal.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, or clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness or weakness
- Dizziness or fainting
What to do when heat exhaustion is suspected:
- Move to a cool place
- Loosen clothing
- Put on cool, wet cloths or take a cool bath
- Sip water
- Contact a medical professional if symptoms include vomiting, get worse, or last longer than 1 hour
Signs of Heatstroke:
- Body temperature above 103 degrees
- Hot, red, dry skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Loss of consciousness
What to do when heatstroke is suspected:
- Seek immediate medical attention, heatstroke is a medical emergency
- Move to a cooler place
- Help lower temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
These symptoms of, and treatments for, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are based on CDC guidelines and recommendations. If you believe you or someone you know is experiencing illness, you should contact a medical professional for accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.
With Member Medical, patients receive 24/7 virtual access to their provider, which could help prevent an unnecessary emergency room visit or worse, an inaccurate self-diagnoses when prompt medical attention is needed.
Of course, it’s best to take a proactive approach to your family’s health and avoid heat exhaustion in the first place. If you can’t completely avoid the heat, follow these 3 tips to prevent heat-related illness.
1. Wear the right clothing for hot, humid days
When the days are hot, wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing can help you stay cool.
Clothing made from breathable fabrics allows your body to naturally release heat without causing more sweat. Cotton, linen, and jersey fabrics are great for a hot day. Rayon is another fabric suitable for warm weather, but avoid it in humid locations because this manufactured fabric doesn’t wick-away moister like cotton or linen.
It’s also important to wear light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s heat and make it harder for your body to cool off.
Bonus tip: Though sunscreen doesn’t necessarily keep you cool, a sunburn can cause dehydration and affect your body’s ability to cool down. Protect yourself by wearing sunscreen that is 15 SPF or higher and reapply regularly.
2. Stay hydrated and replenished by drinking healthy fluids
Often times, on hot days the go-to beverage is sports drinks, especially for kids and young adults. While these beverages can help replenish salt and minerals you’ve lost through excessive sweating, they normally contain high amounts of sugar. Sugary drinks cause you to lose more water, making them less effective for staying hydrated.
Instead, switch to water for healthier hydration. Keep a reusable water bottle handy for each member of your family and make sure you fill them up before leaving the house.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget your family pet! Animals also suffer from dehydration, so make sure you keep their water bowls filled, fresh, and set in a shady spot.
3. Never let your guard down when it comes to hot cars – triple check!
Tragically, every summer brings news stories of individuals, mostly children, who have died in hot cars. As a vigilant parent, you may think I could never forget my child in a hot car – but you can never be too careful! Even with temperatures as low as 80 degrees outside, the inside of your car can reach dangerous temperatures quickly.
Never leave children or pets in parked car, and resolve to be proactive by triple checking:
- Leave a stuffed animal in the carseat, and when your child is in the car put the stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder.
- Before heading to your destination, leave an important item such as a purse or wallet in the backseat so you are forced to check the backseat before leaving the car.
- If you have older children, assign safety buddies or simply talk to them about the importance of hot-car safety as an added measure of precaution.
We know you have your family’s best health in mind and we hope that these tips can help you avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. If you notice any of the signs of a heat-related illness, take precautions and get out of the heat – the day at the beach, trip to the park, or simple grocery run isn’t worth the consequences of heat-related illness.
Do you have other tried and true tips for staying cool on hot days? Share them with us and other readers in the comments below! If you’re interested in learning more tips for keeping your family happy and health, download our family wellness guide.