Stay Safe and Healthy in the Summer Heat

Woman in tank top and denim shorts

Our temperature here in Dallas, Texas is supposed to hit about 103 degrees today.  Phoenix, Arizona expects to hit at least 100 degrees every day this week.  Those are some extreme temperatures out there!

Two of the worst dangers are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Heat exhaustion is characterized by excessive sweating, a rapid pulse, fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.  Heat stroke is the advanced condition if heat exhaustion is not treated properly.  Heat stroke itself, characterized by internal body temperatures of at least 104 degrees, can possibly lead to organ damage.

The best ways to avoid these extreme physical conditions are to avoid the peak hours (ten in the morning to four in the afternoon) and to minimize your direct exposure to the sun.  Plenty of sunscreen and light-colored clothing will help keep your body temperatures down as well.

The most important way to stay healthy and safe in the heat is to stay hydrated.  By the time you feel thirsty, you are already starting to get dehydrated.  Anything that includes caffeine or alcohol does not suffice, since they can lead to further dehydration.  And please watch out for those around you — pets, young children, and the elderly are more susceptible to the effects of the heat.

If you do end up overheated, get to a cool area as soon as possible, and drink water.  You can also use ice packs to help bring the body temperatures back down. If you end up sunburned (despite all our warnings to use sunscreen!!!), taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen will help reduce pain and inflammation.  Aloe vera gel can help calm and cool the injured skin.  Avoid scrubbing and shaving the injured skin to help it heal.

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