From heat exhaustion and heat stroke to dehydration and sunburns, the summer heat can pose a variety of health threats. West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, a full-service acute care facility, recommends the following tips for staying safe from heat-related illnesses.
1. STAY HYDRATED
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Dehydration results from excessive loss of fluids (e.g., through sweating) and/or not sufficiently replenishing fluids. The U.S. National Research Council recommends drinking eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day and an additional 16-32 ounces of water each hour during heavy exercise in a hot environment.
2. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
When the weather is hot, wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing can help you stay cool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts when possible, a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from strong ultraviolet (UV) rays and sun exposure.
3. APPLY SUNSCREEN
According to the CDC, the sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as few as 15 minutes. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more can help prevent sunburns. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection. Reapplying sunscreen every hour while spending time outdoors will help further prevent the skin from getting burnt.
4. ESCAPE MIDDAY HEAT
Summer brings warm days that make spending time outside more enjoyable; however, temperatures are often the highest during the midday hours. When possible, try to schedule outdoor activities and errands for a later time in the day or move the activity to a shaded area. If you’re planning to spend the day inside, it is best to be in an air-conditioned space.
5. KNOW YOUR SYMPTOMS
According to the American Red Cross, excessive heat can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include headaches, rapid heartbeat, heavy sweating, nausea, dizziness, weakness and flushed skin. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, move them to a cooler place, remove tight clothing and apply a wet cloth to the skin. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. Common symptoms include a high body temperature, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness and abnormal neurological symptoms. If someone is experience these signs, call 911 immediately, move the person to a cooler place and give them fluids.
“While seniors, children and people with chronic health problems are most vulnerable, summer’s high temperatures put everyone at potential risk for heat-related illness,” said James De La Torre, MD, emergency services director at West Hills Hospital. “Be sure to stay hydrated, always apply sunscreen and pay extra attention to symptoms of young children and the elderly because they may not be able to ask for help. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heat stroke, it is best to get them medical attention immediately.
To learn more about West Hills Hospital, please visit http://www.westhillshospital.com.
About West Hills Hospital & Medical Center
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, a full-service acute care facility, has served the West San Fernando Valley for more than 50 years. With 450 expert physicians and a staff of more than 900 that brings outstanding service to every bedside, the hospital offers a full complement of advanced technology, compassion and responsive care for the improvement of human life. West Hills Hospital was the first Accredited Chest Pain Center in Los Angeles County and also provides specialized care in the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, Outpatient Services, Cardiac Catheterization Labs and The Grossman Burn Center. For more information on quality care close to home, visit http://www.westhillshospital.com.