Extreme heat exposes us to the risk of some serious health issues such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, hyperthermia, and heatstroke. Even though everyone is affected by intense summer heat, some are more at risk. Adults over 65 years and babies are more prone to heat strokes, as are those with pre-existing conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, or pregnancy.
That doesn't mean those without pre-existing conditions shouldn’t take precautions when outside, it’s just smart to practice. If you’re wondering how to stay safe in sweltering heat, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Wear sunscreen (at least SPF 30) and reapply at least every two hours or after getting out of the water or sweating heavily.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Avoid dark clothing as it draws the sun. You can buy UPF clothing that protects from UV rays. Look for UPF 50.
- Stay in shaded areas as much as possible to avoid prolonged sun exposure.
- Hydrate frequently. Water and sports drinks are best bets.
Summer means mosquitoes and ticks. These critters can be a nuisance and may carry disease. To keep them out of the house, make sure to keep doors and windows shut. Look out for standing water - the perfect breeding ground for insects, particularly mosquitoes.
Here are additional tips to keep in mind while staying outdoors.
- Wear protective clothing like long sleeves and long pants that can tuck into your socks or boots. Wear light-colored clothing to easily spot ticks or other insects hitching a ride on you.
- Use EPA-approved insect repellents.
- Make it a habit to check yourself for ticks. If you have a friend along to check you out (particularly on your blind spots like your back, neck, and head), that is even better.
- Immediately wash your clothes after returning home.
- Immediately seek medical help when you develop symptoms of a tick-borne disease. Tell your healthcare provider where you were when you got bitten. If you’re able to keep the tick after extraction, take it with you when you visit the doctor.
Hot cars are like an oven on wheels when left out in the blistering sun. Be sure to take extra caution when parking your ride, especially if you have kids or pets with you.
- Park in the shade. If there’s no shade, park facing a direction where the sun will shine on the rear window.
- Make use of sunshades for the windshield and the backseat windows (especially if you have kids).
- Make sure that no one is left inside the car walking away. Don’t ever leave children or pets in a closed vehicle. The interior of a car can reach up to 200F in less than 10 minutes under the sweltering hot sun.
- If you spot someone (or a pet) inside a hot car, have the driver paged and/or call 911 immediately.
When eating outdoors, you need to pay attention to the food you’re packing. Keep an eye on provisions that can spoil easily.
- Pack non-perishable snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and crackers.
- Keep all food in coolers until you’re ready to eat.
- Freeze your beverages like juice boxes, water bottles, and lemonade the night before (handy ice packs for the other items in the cooler and helps the drinks stay colder longer). Avoid carbonated drinks because they have a tendency to explode when exposed to hot temperatures.
- When packing your cooler, remember to keep it full. It will help keep all items cold longer.
- As much as you may want dairy products to go with your picnic haul, avoid them. Mayonnaise goes bad quickly during the summer.
- Remember that food left outside for more than an hour should be thrown out.
It’s your turn! Share your summer outdoor tips in the comment section below.