Many of us plan picnics and outdoor activities during summer. Yet, when the temperatures and humidity heat up as they have been doing this past week, you need to take proper precautions to stay safe from heat exhaustion when spending time in this brutal summer heat.
Prepare for Your Time in the Sun to Prevent Heat Exhaustion
You want to rely on a broad spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher. On days with high humidity in combination with higher than normal heat, you can expect to sweat more. The reason a water-resistant formula can help keep you safer is that it is better for stopping sweat that could leave your skin vulnerable to a heat rash.
On the other hand, there have been studies where the traditional formula of sunscreen was considered a better choice, especially when vigorously active such as playing volleyball, running, etc. According to the research, these sunscreen formulas allow the skin to sweat enough to cool the body through the activity instead of trapping it like a water-resistant formula.
More research needs to be done. In view of this, make sure to bring your choice of sunscreen with you to reapply every two hours.
A hat with a large brim or one made out of treated protective material can keep the sun from your head to help limit your chances of heat exhaustion. You also need to wear loose, absorbent clothing such as cotton over a polyester fabric that limits air flow.
You also want to pack wash cloths. Dampening a wash cloth with lukewarm, not cold water when the effects of heat start to get to you can help stop heat exhaustion progressing.
Water is essential over sodas that may have caffeine and ones with lots of sugar that could drain more water, salt, and minerals that may cause dehydration. Pack enough water in a cooler for you and your family. Anticipate enough to drink a cup every hour. Aim for a few cups per hour if you’re active. Make it a rule that everyone in your family needs to drink the water first before handing out the sodas or alcohol is another defense against summer heat exhaustion.
Another drink of choice is water with some fresh cut lemon. Believe it or not, lemon has the power to naturally cool you off. Research has also shown lemon water can help you actually drink more water overall to keep ultimately hydrated.
After heavy sweating, you need to replace the salt that your body just gave up. What helps is adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to about two cups of water and sipping slowly or downing a sports drink.
Foods that keep the body cooler also are advisable safeguards against summer heat exhaustion. A wonderful choice for your picnic cooler to stave off this unbearable heat is a melon, especially juicy slices of cold watermelon. Pineapple, peaches, oranges, and strawberries are also hydrating and can help the body replenish water.
Leafy green salads with a vinaigrette dressing and plenty of tomatoes, onions, and celery also help keep you hydrated. With sweltering heat, green salads are a safer bet than traditional potato salads at your picnic until consumed.
Know the Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion and What to Do
One of the first clues of spending too much time in the sun is feeling sluggish. Go indoors if you can. Other signs of heat exhaustion are nausea, dizziness, inability to think clearly, and developing a headache. Skin may also pale and hands can become clammy. Your pulse could race, breathing could be difficult, and cramps could develop. These are important signs to alert you to danger.
Loosen any tight clothing or strip out it and lie down with your feet elevated. If you are outside, look for a place with shade and rest. You can also try sponging off with some lukewarm water to cool down the body.
If you’re on medications, elderly, obese, or have a compromised immune system, you need to be extra careful of heat exhaustion. Medicines such as ones for blood pressure, allergies, cold or flu remedies, and diuretics can make you more vulnerable. Keep this in mind and stay alert to any changes that you may experience.
What I’m sharing here is not meant to diagnose only as a means to inform you of the how to prevent heat exhaustion, the signs to look for, and what may help. Nonetheless, if you experience heat exhaustion, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor even if you feel more like yourself later, especially if you’re under his care with medications.
Though I hope that I haven’t spoiled your plans for outdoor summer fun, it never hurts to be aware of heat exhaustion. After all, body temperatures can lose fluids quickly in stifling heat without realizing the seriousness of the situation.
I always carry a water bottle with me everywhere, all year long. In the summer, I keep water bottles in the car…just in case.