The best defense is prevention. Here are some prevention tips:
Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity
level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor
generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask
him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of
sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold
drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned
place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or
public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body
stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department
to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in
the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower
or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool
Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness,
some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
and young children
aged 65 or older
who have a mental illness
o Those who
are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them
for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of
course, need much more frequent watching.
If you must be out in the heat:
Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four
glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can
replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a
low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
Remember the warning in the first "tip” (above), too.
Try to rest often in shady areas.
Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also
keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or
higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum” or "UVA/UVB
protection” on their labels).
This information provided by NCEH's Health Studies Branch.