Summer is officially here! The days are longer, the grass is green, and the temperature is rising. All of us, but especially those of us with chronic health concerns, have to take the necessary precautions to stay safe during the long hot days of summer. Here are steps you can take to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer season:
- Stay Hydrated – Our bodies need water every day of the year. But in summer, this becomes even more essential as the heat and humidity cause our bodies to lose more water in the form of sweating. Be sure you are drinking plenty of water every day and limiting your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and sugary beverages which can cause you to dehydrate even more rapidly.
- Plan Activities Around the Heat – Gardening, golf, taking a walk, or just sitting on the porch. These are just a few of the many outdoor activities available to us during the summer months. But these activities need to be approached with caution when it relates to heat. On the warmest days of the year, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours when the sun is not as hot. Avoid the middle of the day when the heat index is at its peak. And if you must be outside in the middle of the day, try to be in the shade as much as possible.
- Heat Index – Speaking of heat index, what exactly IS a heat index? The heat index is a temperature-like number that combines the effects of the actual temperature and the relative humidity (moisture) in the air. It helps you to better understand what it actually feels like outside. Days that are both warm and humid require extra caution. Say for example it is 85 degrees outside: warm but not oppressive. However if the relative humidity is 80%, it will actually feel like 95 degrees! You will get hotter more quickly, find the air more difficult to breathe, sweat more, and become fatigued faster.
- Keeping Your Cool – Obviously air conditioning and fans top the list of things you can use to stay cool in the summer. But there are other less obvious steps you can take such as wearing loose, lightweight clothing, keeping curtains and blinds closed, and enjoying sugar-free hydrating treats such as popsicles and melons. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, the library is a great place to go for a few hours each day to get out of the heat.
- Use Sunscreen and Bug Spray – It does not have to be hot for a person to get sunburn. Remember to always apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
- Have A Plan – Know who to call (neighbor, family, friend) in the event you begin to feel weak, nauseous, headache, fatigue, light-headed, have flushed skin, or stop sweating. All of these are signs of heat stroke which requires care and immediate medical attention.
With proper planning and precautions, everyone can enjoy the summer months safely. Be sure to visit your friends at Burlington Health Care to discuss ways we can help you beat the summer heat!