By MaryHelen Swanson
Nobody is asking “Hot enough for ya?” these days.
It obviously is.
It’s so hot that one can barely breathe, let alone respond to such an inane question.
The extreme heat leads off news stories, is the main event at the coffee shop… why it’s a force that directs pretty much all our activities these days.
But, guess what, it’s summer. It’s that good old-fashioned summer of which songs were written and for which cold glasses of lemonade were invented.
Actually, I’m supposed to be drinking lots of water this week as ECM-Sun publishers through Medica embarks on the Choices Chug-A-Jug Challenge.
And it really is a challenge for me, as my claustrophobia spills over to the realm of water and the thought of drinking it, by the 8-oz. glass, frightens me.
Still, I know it is important to keep hydrated in these high temperatures, so I’ll sip away at my water bottle.
But for now, I’m going to share some tips from The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
These suggestions will help protect you and your family during hot weather.
• Drink more fluids than usual – but avoid fluids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar. Check with your doctor if you have been advised to limit your intake of fluids or placed on diuretics (“water pills”).
• Stay indoors – in an air-conditioned location, if possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, spending a few hours a day in an air-conditioned public place like a public library or shopping mall will help your body cope with the heat.
• Don’t rely on electric fans. Electric fans will not prevent heat-related illnesses when the temperature reaches the high 90s and above.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Never leave people, children – or animals – in a closed, parked vehicle, even with the windows open. (This is no laughing matter. I heard radio talk hosts say they baked cookies on the dash of their car in this heat. Inside the car!)
• Check regularly on people who may be at higher risk of heat-related illness – infants and young children, people over 65, people with mental illness, and people with chronic health problems like heart disease or high blood pressure.
• If you must spend time outdoors, try to limit your activity to the cooler hours of the day, in the morning and evening. Try to take rest breaks in shady areas and drink plenty of water.
• Limit physical exercise. Again, when you do exercise, be sure to take in plenty of fluids.
• Taking a cool bath or shower can be an effective way to cool off.
• When you’re outdoors, wear hats and use sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
Signs of heat-related illnesses vary but can include the following: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability unless immediately treated.
Symptoms of heat stroke include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); red, hot, and dry skin; rapid breathing; racing heart rate; headache; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.
If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately.
As for this latter item, I know first-hand how awful heat stroke is, as I have experienced it.
We need to take these precautions seriously because it can be a matter of life and death in many instances.
Please do whatever you can to keep cool and be safe. We’d love for you to be around to share your hot weather horror stories with us all when they finally turn off the furnace.
— MaryHelen Swanson is editor of the ECM Post Review