Fall is fast approaching, and with it, a much-anticipated transition from heat and humidity to cool, brisk weather. Before lower temperatures arrive, however, we may need to endure a few more brutally hot days.
Summer heat isn’t just uncomfortable; it can be downright dangerous for vulnerable individuals. Issues such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke become more common as the temperature spikes — and often, just a few degrees are enough to place vulnerable people at risk.
Thankfully, it’s possible to avoid such problems — even on the hottest, most uncomfortable days. Keep reading to learn whether you or your loved ones might be susceptible, and if so, how to stay safe in extreme heat.
While heat can be a problem for anyone, certain groups tend to be most susceptible when the temperature and humidity hit extreme levels. At-risk populations identified by the Centers for Disease Control include:
The desire to make the most of each summer day is understandable as fall approaches, but prudence is essential when heat and humidity take over. A few simple precautions can prevent both general discomfort and potentially life-threatening issues:
Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other hot weather concerns are more likely when participating in activities that involve major physical exertion. Hence, the prevalence of heat-related illness among athletes and other active individuals who seem to be in excellent shape.
It’s still possible to exercise in the heat, but it may be necessary to dial back the intensity. Take regular water breaks and don’t hesitate to call it quits when you feel uncomfortable. If you prefer physically demanding activities, consider exercising indoors at an air-conditioned gym or even at home.
Acclimatizing to the heat over time may make it easier to handle ongoing stretches of hot weather. While the last few weeks of summer may seem too late for adjusting, it’s still possible to ease into hot temperatures. This means starting small and progressively increasing both the duration and intensity of outdoor activities.
Dehydration represents one of the greatest threats when excessive heat takes over. To compensate for the increased temperature, the body sweats more. This results in an accelerated pace of fluid loss. Taken to an extreme, dehydration can be incredibly dangerous, particularly for the vulnerable groups highlighted above.
Unfortunately, dehydration is a chronic, societal problem even in cooler weather. Research suggests that some of the most vulnerable among us are chronically dehydrated. Add heat to this already alarming tendency to not drink enough, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Struggling to stay hydrated on the hottest summer days? These suggestions should help:
While it may initially seem obvious that your wardrobe should be adjusted to account for extreme heat, many popular summer outfits actually exacerbate hot weather concerns. All clothing should be made from breathable materials, such as cotton or linen. Likewise, light-colored outfits are preferable to darker hues.
The right hat can also make a huge difference when the sun is at its most intense. A breathable hat with a wide brim is preferable, as this will keep the sun away from your face.
While longer layers may be needed to prevent sunburn when heading outside, it’s best to wear as little clothing as possible if forced to spend time indoors without air conditioning.
As you spend time with people who are vulnerable to heat, keep a close watch for common signs of trouble These include the following:
Remember, these symptoms can come on suddenly. When they appear, proactive measures are essential. Our attorneys at Regan Zambri Long advise you to seek medical care if you suspect heat-related illness.
Tagged heat, heat stroke, Summer