HEALTH: Beat the summer heat with handy tips

By Contributor
July 8th, 2010

Temperatures are finally beginning to climb around B.C., and many of us will be heading outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather. Interior Health wants to remind residents about the importance of being sun-smart and heat aware to stay safe and healthy this summer.

 Excessive sun and heat exposure can lead to heat-related illness such as dehydration, sun stroke and heat exhaustion, and can also cause sun skin damage and sunburns. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the outdoors this summer: 

  • NEVER leave children alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to over 50 C (122 F) within 20 minutes in an enclosed vehicle when the outside temperature is 34 C (93 F). Leaving the car windows open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature. Pets should also not be left in a vehicle at any time;
  • Drink plenty of fluids and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink;
  • Water is your best drink option. Avoid fluids that contain alcohol, caffeine or have a high sugar content;
  • Protect yourself from the sun, stay in the shade and use sunscreen with SPF 15 or more;
  • To keep cool on hot days, stay indoors in air-conditioned facilities or visit an air-conditioned location. At temperatures above 35 C, fans are not as effective at preventing heat-related illness;
  • Limit daytime outdoor activity to early morning and late afternoon.
  • Avoid tiring work or exercise in hot, humid environments. Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade;
  • Check regularly on older people, and those who are unable to leave their homes, for signs of heat-related illness;
  • Wear UVA/UVB protective sunglasses to help prevent damage to your eyes;
  • Children under 1 should be kept out of the direct sun. Be sure to protect all children from the sun with the use of sunscreen.

 Heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all risks you can suffer from as the temperature rises. The effects of heat stressinclude general weakness, tiredness, poor muscle control, and headache. Heat exhaustion may also include nausea, pale, cool and clammy skin, excessive sweating, rapid pulse and rapid shallow breathing and muscle cramps. Heat stroke, the next stage, can occur very quickly and without warning. Symptoms of serious heat stroke include hot, dry, flushed skin, usually with no sweating, agitation and confusion, headache, nausea, and vomiting.  Infants and children up to four-years of age are at a higher risk for heat-related illness, because they do not lose heat quickly and do not sweat effectively. It is important for adults to ensure that kids are kept cool and receive plenty of fluids. People over 65 are also at greater risk for heat-related illness, and during periods of high heat they should be checked on regularly. If you or someone around you appears to be suffering from heat-related illness:

  • Move to a cooler environment
  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • Wear light-weight clothing

 Serious symptoms may require emergency services. For more information visit HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc.ca or call 8-1-1.


Categories: General