Summertime safety

Minden Medical Center offers summer heat tips

Special to the Minden Press-Herald

Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Visit our website www.mindenmedicalcenter.com for more information on heat related illnesses and ways to stay cool.

Minden Medical Center offers the following tips for staying cool and safe this summer:

Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.

Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Have a beverage with you at all times, and sip or drink frequently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.

Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m.

Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine or consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool places. Also cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.

Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.

When going outside:

Limit the time you’re in direct sunlight.

Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.

Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.

Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.

Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean:

Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.

Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.

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