Although we only get to enjoy the summer heat for a few months a year, it certainly packs a punch while it’s here. Summer is in full swing, and hopefully you are out on the golf course or ducking away for a few weeks at the cottage. This is also the time of year when we can use a few reminders to stay safe in the heat.
Drink plenty of water. We all know the value of staying hydrated, but it’s extra important during a heat wave. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Cold water may feel more refreshing, but it can actually cause cramps if you are exerting yourself. Stick to room temperature liquids to keep your fluids toped up. Limit your intake of sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol.
Stay indoors if you can, and keep your home’s temperature down. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, head to a mall or the library during the hottest part of the day.
Let your body get used to the heat. There is often a spike in heat related emergencies during the first heatwave of the summer. People simply aren’t used to it and forget to adjust their tolerance gradually. It can take several weeks for your body to adapt to the increased temperatures, and transitioning frequently between extreme heat and air conditioning can take a toll on your immune system.
Never leave anyone in a parked car. Although this seems like common sense, every year there are several heat related tragedies involving children and family pets. Cars heat up extremely quickly, even if they are parked in the shade. A vehicles temperature can increase by 20 degrees Celsius in under ten minutes if the windows are closed.
Protect your skin. Overexposing your skin to the sun’s rays can actually hamper your body’s natural temperature control. In fact, many people who are suffering from heat stroke actually stop sweating. Cover your skin with breathable clothing and be sure to apply sunscreen.
Ask your doctor if any of your medications put you at risk. Certain prescription medications can hamper your body’s ability to stay hydrated. It’s better to know ahead of time so you can compensate your fluid loss accordingly.
Check on neighbours or relatives who may be more vulnerable during the heat wave. People aged 65 and older, and those with heart and blood pressure conditions are far more likely to experience a heat related emergency. If you have someone nearby who may have difficulty coping, stop by to make sure they are OK.
If you must work in the heat, ask your employer about their policies. Outdoor workers or those in non-air conditioned factories and warehouses are faced with a challenging environment during these few intense weeks. Some companies will shut down if the temperature exceeds a certain level, while others will enforce mandatory “cool-down” breaks to ensure that everyone stays hydrated.