Published on June 11, 2021

Tips from Genesis: Beating the Summer Heat

Each year in the United States, more than 600 deaths are attributed to excessive natural heat. Many of the deaths are preventable.

Here's a few tips from Genesis Medical Center emergency physician David Dierks, D.O., on staying safe during summer heat:

  • Stay out of the heat when possible. The young and old are particularly vulnerable. People with chronic conditions such as heart disease, mental health conditions, asthma and high blood pressure are at higher risk for heat illnesses.

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

  • Check on elderly and sick friends, neighbors and relatives throughout the day.

  • Drink plenty of water, particularly when exercising or working outdoors. A good rule of thumb is eight ounces of water for every 20 minutes of outdoor activity.

  • When possible, complete outdoor work either early in the day or late in the day.

  • If you go for a walk, jog or bike, take a phone. If you get into trouble, call for help.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Both act as diuretics and speed up the loss of fluid.

  • Make sure children take breaks from outdoor activity. During the hottest part of the day, head inside to play games, or watch a movie.

  • Take care of your skin. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wear a wide-brimmed hat. Reapply sunscreen frequently, especially if you are swimming.

  • Seek shade or air conditioning if you begin to feel dizzy or nauseous.

  • Seek medical treatment immediately if you are disoriented, have a high body temperature, are vomiting, or have stopped perspiring.

  • Don’t leave small children or pets in a vehicle. Temperatures can rise quickly to fatal ranges. One tip is to put something important to your day in the back seat with a child, such as a phone, shoe or work materials.

What to Watch For

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Body temperature may be normal, or is likely to be rising

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Hot, red skin
  • Changes in consciousness
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Body temperature can be 105 degrees F or higher. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.

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