• Maria H. Drzaszcz

Tips to beat the August heat


Drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heat related illness. (Courtesy Photo)

July and August are typically the hottest months on record. We had a couple heatwaves with temperatures in the high 90s at end of July. August brings plenty of heat and humidity as well. Heat is one of the leading weather related killers in the United States, according to the National Weather Service, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. Here are a few heat safety tips for the remainder of summer.


Drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heat related illness. Eating meals and snacks throughout the day with adequate water intake is enough to maintain electrolytes and replace salt lost when you sweat. Make sure kids stay hydrated too. In this heat, I cannot stress this enough. I stress clear liquids and to avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugary beverages, which can just add to dehydration. For older children, drink plenty of water before going out in the heat. Also, make sure to eat before going out for a full day in the sweltering heat. Once in the heat, make sure you continue drinking plenty of water or sports drinks. For younger babies, make sure they are taking plenty of breastmilk or formula. Dehydration can happen quickly in the little ones and sometimes make them really sick. Look for increased thirst, dry mouth, tiredness, pale skin, dizziness or headache. If any of these are present, get your child into an air conditioned environment and make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids.


Stay in an air-conditioned places as much as possible. If you must be outside for work or other activities, take frequent breaks in an indoor, air conditioned space. Wear appropriate clothing: choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and cotton clothing. Keep your home cool inside by shitting curtains to block out the sun. Use your stove and oven less while cooking to keep indoor temperatures down. Never leave children, older adults, individuals with disabilities or pets in a vehicle unattended. Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open.


Schedule outdoor work and other activities carefully. Limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, such as morning and evening hours. Take shaded rest breaks often. Cut down on exercise during the heat. If you must be outside, protect yourself from the suns ray by wearing a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Remember the sunscreen. It’s hot and a chore to put on, I know, but sunburn can begin with 15 minutes of being in the sun and damage from the sun’s rays can last a lifetime. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30, 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Remember to reapply often and after swimming or using a towel. For younger infants, keep them shaded. For kids with sensitive skin, look at sunblock with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the main ingredient. Should you start to see redness or itching or burning on your child, it’s time to get out of the sun.


Remember to check on elderly or disabled relatives or neighbors, especially ones that may not have air-conditioned homes. Make sure they have access to plenty of food and water, means to cool off, and that they know signs of symptoms of heat related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.


Keeping these tips in mind, everyone can have a memorable, cool and safe end to summer.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke: Symptoms to know.


Heat Exhaustion Symptoms


Heavy sweating


Painful muscle cramps


Clammy, pale, cool and/or moist skin


Extreme weakness and/or fatigue


Nausea and/or vomiting


Dizziness and/or headache


Body temperature normal or slightly high


Fainting


Rapid and weak pulse


Fast and shallow breathing


Heat Stroke Symptoms


No sweating


Mental confusion, delirium or dizziness


Hot and dry skin (red or mottled)


Uncontrollable muscle twitching


Rapid and weak pulse


Body temp 102-104 F or higher


Unconsciousness or coma


If any of these are present, attempt to move the person to an indoor air conditioned location, call 911, and take immediate action to cool the person until help arrives.



Maria H. Drzaszcz, a Hammonton resident, is a registered nurse with 14 years critical care experience and is the proud mom of three young children.