It is the dead of winter right now. Trees are bare, temperatures are cold, and some parts of the country are covered in snow – or just old, grey slush. You might be wondering – why am I reading an article about heat? Well, as plans for summer activities and vacations begin to take shape in the coming weeks and months, it is important to keep in mind that hot summer temperatures can have negative effects on your health.
Many people are very active during the summer, taking advantage of warmer, sunnier days. Perhaps you’re a runner, a biker, or a hiker. Maybe you like to get together with friends to play soccer or volleyball or basketball after work. Children especially love to spend their time free from school in the great outdoors, from playing on the playground to attending sports training camps. Increased body temperatures from outdoor activities, on top of baseline, hot summer temperatures, provide an increased risk for heat-related illness.
However, even those who prefer to spend their summer perched in a beach chair are not immune to such illnesses. If you are outside, you should be alert for heat stress and heat stroke symptoms in yourself and others. Beaches can be particularly hazardous as sun reflects off of hot sand and shade is limited. Additionally, air conditioning may be a few blocks’ walk away to your hotel or beach house. Baseball games, too, can have you roasting in the sun for hours on end, much like those peanuts you’re probably eating.
Alright – how can you prevent heat-related illness? One of the best precautions to take is to drink plenty of water. Water breaks should be a staple in all outdoor athletic endeavors, from morning runs to after-work games to week-long elite sports camps. A water bottle should be the hottest accessory every beach season. One way to remember to take water breaks is to make a playlist for the day with a designated “water song” added multiple times, preferably once for every 15-20 songs. Every time this song plays, everyone must stop what they’re doing and hydrate.
Shade is another key tool in fighting heat illness. From tailgate tents to beach umbrellas, there are many options for making your own shade when no natural shade is readily available.
A final way to avoid heat illnesses is to take indoor, air-conditioned breaks when spending an entire day outside. Going back to a beach house or to a nearby restaurant for lunch when spending a day at the shore is a great way to break up the day. The same thing applies for outdoor sports camps. Overall, lunch breaks indoors are ideal because heat is often most intense in the early afternoon hours when the sun is directly overhead. Lunch is a great time to escape peak heat.
Signs of heat stress and heat stroke are included in the above image. Know them so that you can spot them in yourself and your friends, and seek help when necessary!
©2020 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
(Image from www.weather.gov)
For more information on how to prepare for dangerous weather, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics