Do You Know the Signs of Heat Illness?
Play and recreation outdoors in the summer can be fun and relaxing – as long as you know how to protect yourself and your family from heat illness.
It’s important to know that there is no set “safety zone” in terms of how long someone can be outside without being at risk for heat illness (sometimes called “sun poisoning”). Depending on factors like age, heat tolerance, and general health, a person can show signs of heat illness or heat exhaustion in a relatively short amount of time, while the person next to him might not show the same signs for several more hours.
How To Prevent Heat Illness, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Stroke:
Drink (and offer) plenty of water or low-sugar sports drinks, chilled or at room temperature if possible. (Don’t wait until you’re thirsty or your child says he is thirsty to start drinking or to offer a drink – by that point, some level of dehydration has likely set in.)
- Avoid alcoholic beverages when playing or working outdoors in the summer.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fighting, light colored clothing.
- NEVER leave anyone (including yourself) in a parked car with the windows up on a summer day in Texas.
- Limit your outdoor activity between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m..
- Take more frequent breaks when working or playing outside, preferably in a spot that offers some shade.
If you notice or experience any of the following symptoms while playing or working outdoors in the sun, it’s time to get inside in the air conditioning, lay down or sit down with feet propped up, and drink water:
- Muscle cramping
- Excessive fatigue or thirst
- Headache, nausea
- Profuse sweating that’s followed by a cold, clammy skin
Overexposure to the sun can also cause heat stroke, an extremely dangerous condition that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms for heat stroke can appear very suddenly, which is one reason why it’s important to take steps to prevent heat-related illness.
In cases where someone who is working or playing outside complains of being dizzy, seems confused, has a high body temperature, or faints – or in any case where heat symptoms persist or seem troubling, call 9-1-1 or head to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility immediately.