Beat the Heat!

AUTHOR:  Roz Dominico
DATE:  06/11/2020

Summer has arrived! Unlike me (I enjoy snow!), I know many of you are excited for the hot weather.

Caution!

Everyone needs to be aware to heat-related illnesses, ANYONE can succumb to a heat related illness. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But when humidity is high and sweat does not evaporate quickly, body temperature can rise rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs. Other factors that increase risk include age, weight, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a relatively mild form of heat-related illness that develops due to exposure to high temperatures and inadequate hydration. Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat (electrolytes).

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting and weakness
  • Skin may be cool, moist, and pale
  • Pulse will be fast and weak
  • Breathing will be fast and shallow

If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Please seek medical attention immediately if symptoms are severe. Otherwise, help the person to cool off, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

Cooling measures that may be effective include the following:

  • Drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Rest
  • A cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • An air-conditioned environment
  • Lightweight clothing

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is defined as a core body temperature of more than 105° F and brain dysfunction. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

  • Rapid, strong, or weak pulse
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103° F or 39.4° C, measured orally)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency.

  1. Call 911 while you begin cooling the person.
  2. Get the person to an air-conditioned area, or a shady area, and cool them rapidly using whatever methods you can, for example:
  • Place ice packs on areas such as wrist, neck, armpits, groin, back
  • Immerse the person in cool water, or apply cool water, such as in a tub or shower, from a garden hose or by sponging water on
  • Fan the person vigorously
person drinking water.

Suggestions for Staying Cool

  • Find air conditioning, e.g. go to a restaurant or grocery store.
  • Exercise during the early morning or late evening hours when heat and ozone levels are at the lowest levels of the day.
  • If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Rest often in shade or air-conditioning so that your body's thermostat will have a chance to recover.
  • Drink plenty of hydrating fluids and avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Drink a sports beverage to replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat 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) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply according to the package directions.
  • Do not leave children or pets in cars, which can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly!

Enjoy the heat safely!

Connect with Me

headshot of avatar.

Roz Dominico

Assistant Director for Intramural Sports and Programs

Recreation

156 Alumni Arena

Phone: 716-645-6149

Email: dominico@buffalo.edu