Well it is official, the season of summer is finally here in the Midwest, the time to turn off the TV, and head outdoors, to take advantage of all the hot summer time fun and activities. This is also the time when the rise in temperature poses a greater risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Playing or working outdoors during the hot and humid weather requires precautions that we may sometimes forget, as we tend to focus more on the activity, as opposed to the temperature.
One of the most important things to remember is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This means you need to drink fluids, preferably water, which you can flavor by adding lemon, lime, or any of your favorite fruit. Sipping water throughout the day can help in preventing dehydration.
Another great tip to help avoid dehydration is to snack on naturally water-dense fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, citrus fruits, cucumbers, celery, and tomatoes.
Dr. Joseph Schmidt, vice chair of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Medical Center, said your best defense is prevention, and remembering to follow Schmidt’s five simple tips can help both children and adults stay safe in the high heat:
Stay out of the heat – Avoid direct sunlight and strenuous activity outdoors, stay indoors when possible. No air conditioning? Why not consider visiting your local mall for some window shopping, or spending the afternoon in the movie theater.
Dress for the weather – When deciding what clothing to wear in the heat, choose something lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting, and don’t forget your hat.
Drink plenty of liquids – It’s a good idea to begin drinking before you go outside, and if you are feeling ambitious enough for outdoor exercising, drink one quart of liquid an hour to replace lost fluid. (As tempting as they may seem, avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol which can contribute to the loss of more body fluid.)
Take it slow and easy – Think about postponing any athletic activity during high heat and humidity, and limit outdoor activities to the morning and evening. Drinking sports beverages can replace lost salt and minerals when you sweat. If you work outdoors, in addition to drinking plenty of liquids and dressing appropriately, pace yourself and take frequent short breaks in the shade.
Eat smaller meals – Instead of the usual rule of eating three square meals a day, eat smaller meals more frequently on days when the sun turns up the heat.
Amusement parks, swimming pools, barbecues, festivals, and picnics… there is no fun like summertime fun, so when the heat is on, remember to stay safe.