Ask St. Ann’s – Tips for Hot Summer Days

By Chrisann Fennessey, Director of Education at St. Ann’s Community

 The long-awaited summer season is here, bringing with it lengthier days, warmer weather, and — hopefully — plenty of sunshine. Taking simple precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses can help you enjoy this beautiful season to its fullest.

Overexertion in high temperatures can cause anyone’s body to overheat, especially someone who is 65 years of age or older, managing a chronic health problem, overweight, or physically ill.

During a heat wave, it’s essential to check on vulnerable people at least twice a day to make sure they’re OK.

Here are the heat illnesses and warning signs to look for:

Dehydration: Loss of water in the body
• 
Weakness
• Headache
• Muscle cramps
• Dizziness or fainting
• Confusion

Heat Syncope
Dizziness or fainting caused by high temperatures

Heat Exhaustion: Too much heat and dehydration; can lead to heat stroke
• Heavy sweating or no sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness
• Weakness
• Pale, cold, clammy skin
• Dizziness or fainting
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fast, weak pulse

Heat Stroke: Dangerous rise in body temp; can be deadly
• Body temperature of ≥ 103° F
• Red, hot, dry skin
• Fast pulse
• Headache
• Dizziness or fainting
• Nausea or vomiting
• Confusion

These tips from St. Ann’s Community can help you protect yourself and those in your care, including your pets, from overheating:
• Stay Cool
• W
ear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.
• Find a Cool Place: Stay in an air conditioned home or public place as much as possible. Take a refreshing shower or bath, sponge off with cool water or apply cool cloths to your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck.
• Skip Cooking: Choose light, cold meals over hot, heavy meals to keep your body and home cooler.
• Schedule Outside Activities Carefully: Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the hottest time of day, so target mornings and evenings for outdoor activities. Stay in shady areas as much as possible.
• Pace Yourself: Work or exercise at a comfortable pace and rest when needed.
• Wear Sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher: Put it on 30 minutes before going out and reapply as directed.
• Avoid Hot Cars: Never leave people or pets in a parked car, which can heat up like an oven, even with the windows cracked open.
• Stay Hydrated
• Drink Fluids: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Drink plenty of fluids throughout your day, regardless of how active you are. Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks!
• Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.
• Replace Salt and Minerals: Sports drinks can replace the salt and minerals your body loses when you sweat.  However, talk to your doctor if you are on a salt-restricted diet, you have congestive heart failure, diabetes, or any other chronic health condition.

If you are on a low salt diet, have a chronic condition such as diabetes, or take water pills or certain medicines for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, be sure to talk with your doctor about how you can beat the heat safely.

The glorious days of summer are limited, so following these simple precautions can help prevent heat-related illnesses from taking the fun out of your summer!

 Chrisann Fennessey is the director of education at St. Ann’s Community. Contact her at cfennessey@mystanns.com  or visit www.stannscommunity.com.