Heat-induced illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion have the potential to be deadly if they are not treated quickly. They are caused by lack of water or being exposed to heat sources for prolonged periods of time. The body can cool down naturally through sweating; in the case of dehydration, however, the body fails to produce enough sweat and its temperature rises considerably.
Knowing how to deal with heat induced-illnesses is a necessity during the summer season, when heatwaves are a more common occurrence. The proper techniques for doing so is covered in the most basic first aid training courses in Sydney or any other major Australian city. Still, the best cure against heat-induced illnesses is prevention. Here are some of the things you can do to protect yourself from heat stress:
- Proper hydration. Your body needs to cool itself during hot weather, so it sweats more to keep the temperature down. This means you would have to stay more hydrated than usual in hot weather, even when you’re not feeling thirsty at all. Just remember to steer clear of alcohol or drinks that contain large amounts of sugar, as these substances will affect how your body reacts to water.
- Stay away from heat. The sun can be damaging not only on the skin; it can also raise your body heat and cause dehydration. Stay out of direct sunlight as much as you can, and if you have to put yourself out there, make sure to slap on sunscreen, a hat, and keep yourself hydrated.
- Plan ahead. If you like going outdoors, first plan your day. Too much physical activity on hotter days leads to heat-induced illnesses. You can still be active, but plan it so it coincides with the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon. Some activities inevitably need to be done outdoors, but it helps to schedule these activities until hours after the sun is at its peak.
- Protect yourself. If you have to be outdoors, you must keep yourself protected from the excessive heat. Wear lightweight clothes in cool colors, slap on sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and stay under the shade. Avoid tight fitting clothing as this can make you even hotter, and opt for looser clothing instead.
- Don’t leave living things inside cars. Take care not to leave anyone—children, older people, even pets— inside cars. Even on cooler days, the temperature inside of cars can rise to dangerous levels very quickly.
- Keep moving. While it may be tempting not to move on hot days, you have to keep your energy levels high. Eat smaller meals and cold snacks such as salads and fruits throughout the day.
- Stay well-rested. This may mean you have to take more breaks and go to bed early. When your body is more rested, it has less potential of weighing you down, and the risk of getting sick is significantly reduced.
- Take a companion. When going out in the heat, it is recommended to take a companion along with you. You can monitor each other’s health, watch out for symptoms of heat illness, and remind each other to stay hydrated. Having a companion is also helpful in worst-case scenarios, as they can provide first-aid or seek help in case you need it. If you can’t help but go out alone, notify someone where you’re going, what time you’ll be back, and your route, so they can send help in case you don’t return on time.
- Keep cool. It is recommended to stay in air-conditioned places as much as possible in cases of extreme heat, or take a cooling dip in a swimming pool or beach. Take note, though, that while fans may seem cooling, they would not be of any help if temperatures soar to the high 30s. Take constant showers instead of staying in front of a fan to cool off.
- Keep informed. Be on the lookout for weather updates and plan your days accordingly. Local news will usually broadcast heat alerts, safety tips, as well as cooling shelters near you. You can also check on people such as the elderly who you know are vulnerable to heat induced illness by calling them at least twice a day.
Summer may be a tempting season to go out in the sun, but you should still practice caution to prevent yourself from getting heat-induced illnesses or the long-term effects of overexposure to the sun’s rays. Don’t ignore the discomfort you are feeling due to the weather or lack of water. Listen to your body and watch out for the signs of heat-induced illnesses so you can thoroughly enjoy the season without compromising your health.
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This post was written by GDI