During the summer months, with rising temperatures, it is no surprise that in the U.S. alone, over 700 people die a year from heat stroke. According to the CDC, studies suggest that, if current emissions hold steady, excess heat-related deaths in the U.S. could climb to between 3,000 and 5,000 per year by 2050. It is important to take the necessary precautions to avoid heat stroke, as well as to be able to recognize when it’s happening to you or others. Get more information about how to avoid and recognize heat stroke with these summer health tips.
During heat stroke, a person’s core body temperature rises to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The body overheats, putting a strain on the heart. The heart then pumps less blood to vital organs. This affects blood pressure and symptoms such as dizziness and disorientation come into play. At a cellular level, fluid volume and membrane permeability are also thrown for a loop and cells begin to die.
To protect you and your loved ones, several precautions should be taken. Do your best to avoid strenuous physical activity outside during the hottest time of the day, between 10 am and 6 pm. If you are an individual who works outside, you should make sure you drink plenty of water every half-hour or so and take breaks in a cool environment, if at all possible. Try wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing and hats to avoid excess sun exposure. A good indicator of whether or not you are hydrated is the color of your urine. If you are drinking enough water, your urine will probably look light in color. A darker color indicates you are not drinking enough water.
Those most affected by heat stroke are the elderly and children. Do not leave children, pets, or the elderly out in the car. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even if the windows are cracked or the car is in the shade, it is still very dangerous.
Symptoms of heat stroke include: headache, dizziness, light-headedness, a lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, or dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea or vomiting, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering, seizures, or any level of unconsciousness. If heat stroke is suspected, seek medical attention immediately. There are several techniques that may be used to resolve heat stroke. The first is through immersion in cold or ice water. Another includes an evaporation technique that involves misting cool water on the skin while warm air fanned over the body causes water to evaporate, which in turn cools the skin. An additional method works by wrapping the body in a special cooling blanket and applying ice packs to the groin, neck, back and armpits to lower temperature.
Avoiding heat stroke is easy. The two most important factors are hydration and the avoidance of excessively hot environments. Drink lots of water, take it easy, and utilize resources like air conditioning and fans. Your body will thank you. For more information and health tips for summer, stay tuned to our blog.