With more hot and humid days ahead of us, I thought that I would write an article on dealing with the heat. Working or playing in extreme heat requires preparation. The first means of preparation is to hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. Hydrating is a lot like pain management, once you get behind, it is hard to catch up, or especially to get ahead of it. Adequate hydration shows itself in the frequency of urination and the color of your urine. Pardon me for the personal aspect of that last sentence, but you need to know the indicators of good hydration. It is also important that you hydrate with the proper fluids. Water tops the list, with drinks that contain electrolytes coming in a distant second. Drinks that do not make the list are soft drinks, tea, coffee (iced or not) and alcohol. Some drinks can even contribute to dehydration. Another thing to remember in staying ahead is to drink water constantly, even if you do not seem thirsty or have not had to be out in the heat.
Heat-related illnesses include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion can come on simultaneously. Muscle cramping is a sign of dehydration due to lack of water, potassium and other electrolytes. Heat exhaustion shows itself with profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. If untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke begins when sweating stops and the core body temperature begins to rise. It is a medical emergency that requires rapid cooling and large quantities of fluid, normally intravenously, to correct the problem. Elevated core temperature will cook a person from the inside out.
Since we broached the subject of elevated core temperature, let me mention people and pets left in vehicles. The inside temperature of a non-running vehicle can reach temperatures of 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit rapidly. Neither people nor pets are able to tolerate these temperatures for any amount of time. Do not leave people or pets in your vehicle for any reason!!! Distractions are the leading accidental cause of a child being left in a vehicle. Whatever you have to do to remember your sleeping child in the car seat, do it! Leaving a child in a vehicle intentionally is inexcusable.
You must prepare yourself for the heat if you hope to survive it. Frequent breaks in a cooler environment and plenty of fluid intake will help you make it through the day. If you suffer a heat-related illness, it is going to take you a few days to overcome it. Once hit by it, its chances of nailing you again are likely. Enjoy your summer and take care of yourself and your family.