It can happen to anyone, of any age — but as we get older the risk rises along with the temperature.
I’m talking about getting sick from the heat. And that can range from cramps and exhaustion all the way to a deadly heat stroke.
That’s why it’s urgent as the summer temps soar to know the signs and what to do.
Because how fast you act can literally mean the difference between life and death.
The summer may be young, but we’ve already been hit with some killer heat waves.
For example, in Phoenix last week the mercury reached 118 degrees, killing four.
Certainly, if you’re outdoors biking, walking or just gardening, you’re at risk from the effects of heat. But even being indoors — if it gets hot enough — can kill. The textbook example is the European heat wave of 2003 that killed over 14,000 people — and that was just in France.
And most of those deaths weren’t weekend athletes, either, but older people who lived alone and didn’t have air conditioning.
You see, as we age the body isn’t able to regulate our temperature as well as it once did. So even if you were always the one who was able to do things in the heat, slowing down and taking notice of how you feel isn’t being wimpy — but wise!
With that in mind, here are the three main heat-related dangers you need to watch out for:
Danger #1: Heat cramps — this is an early sign that it’s time to rest, drink and cool down. Heat cramps typically can affect your calves, arms, abdomen and back. They can be more extended than leg cramps you might get during the night, and involve muscle jerking or spasms.
Danger #2: Heat exhaustion — here is where ignoring how you feel can turn deadly. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, pale skin, rapid heartbeat and profuse sweating. It’s urgent that you get out of the heat right away and into air conditioning or at the very least a shady area. Remove any excess clothing and apply some cold cloths to your body. The best bet is to take a cool shower as soon as you can.
One good way to nip heat exhaustion in the bud is to take a tip from firefighters and submerge your arms up to the elbows in cold water!
If these precautions aren’t helping, don’t wait too long to get medical help.
Danger #3: Heat stroke — this is the Big Kahuna of hot weather dangers, so don’t take it lightly. If you ignore the signs of heat exhaustion, this can be the result. Heat stroke means the body’s core temperature has gone out of control — and it can reach the deadly zone quickly.
Signs can include a throbbing headache, dizziness or feeling lightheaded, muscle weakness, cramping, rapid heartbeat and confusion or staggering. Move to the inside or shade and call 911. In the meantime (especially if you’re a first responder) the goal is to cool down, with methods such as icepacks to the groin, neck, armpit and back area.
When out in the sun you should also:
- Wear cool, light-colored clothing and a hat or use an umbrella.
- Shun alcohol and caffeinated drinks and drink water instead.
- Take regular breaks, even if you’re just out in the garden or on a leisurely walk.
Remember, should your power go out during a heat wave, don’t try to suffer through it at home. Call the local police and ask where the nearest cooling station is.
And don’t forget our dogs are also vulnerable to heat-related dangers. That’s especially true of pups with short snouts, such as pugs, as well as older pets.
“Keep safe when temperatures soar” Healthday, June 24, 2016, newsmax.com