When summer comes, many people emerge from their homes, rub their eyes in the bright sunlight, and immediately plan all of the fun things they want to do before the next winter arrives. The warm sun allows more outdoor activities and the ability to get some exercise outside the gym.
Many people are fine in the sun, and know when enough is enough, but others are more susceptible to succumbing to heat stroke. On days when the temperatures rise above the ninety-degree mark, just walking down the street for some people is dangerous.
What It Is
Heat stroke is very serious, and you should know the signs and symptoms. Our bodies cool off in hot weather, and during exercise, by sweating. The sweat cools the body and keeps your temperature within acceptable levels. When the heat and the humidity get too high, the body will sweat, but it may not be enough. If this happens, the internal temperature in your body rises to dangerous levels.
Who Should Worry?
While everyone should worry about heat stroke if they are out in the hot sun for an extended period of time, there is a few groups of people who are more susceptible to heat stroke. Infants and the elderly need to be extra careful, as well as anyone who is playing sports or exercising vigorously in the hot sun. Obese people need to be careful in the hot, humid weather as well.
Symptoms of heat stroke will become pretty obvious, but may mimic a heart attack or other coronary event. Watch out of a feeling of being overheated and dizziness. As it progresses, you may notice you are no longer sweating and your skin feels flush. After that, your heart rate will speed up, you may throw up, and you will become disorientated. The results can be seizure, coma, or in some cases, death.
Avoiding Heat Stroke
To avoid heat stroke, think about how hot and humid the day will be, and plan accordingly. Keep exercise scheduled early in the morning or wait until it has cooled off some at night. Jogging in the midday sun when temps soar near 100 degrees F. is not a smart idea.
Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and consider sports drinks when exercising or participating in sports. Wear light colored clothing on hot days, slow down and find some shade if you feel dizzy or overheated. Heat stroke can sneak up on your quickly.
When It Happens
If you are overheated and you notice any signs of heat stroke, ask for help immediately. When you notice heat stroke in others, you should take immediate action. Have someone call for an ambulance and then do some basic heat stroke first aid.
The most important thing to do while waiting for help to arrive is to try cool the victim (or yourself) down. This can be accomplished by getting the victim into the shade or into an air-conditioned room. Excess clothing should be loosened and removed. Use cool water to cool down the surface of their skin.
Keep yourself and your family safe by staying indoors on extremely hot and humid days, and keep fans and air-conditioning going. Save the outdoor activities for later in the day when it has cooled down, or find things to do such as swimming, or a leisurely hike in a well-shaded area.