Preventing and Treating Heat-Related Disorders
As I write this article, both the Northeast of the United States and Moscow have been suffering from unusually extreme heat waves.
The area where I’m staying (St Louis) is having days with temperatures in the 90s and even 100 Fahrenheit.
Now, I’m from this area. I like the heat. I was upset by last year’s cool summer. And I plan to live the rest of my life in a tropical climate.
So I’m tired of hearing people gripe about the heat and the media trying to make it seem as though we’re all about to die from it. It’s typical weather for this area.
However, I have to admit that heat sensitivity does vary by individual, and depends partly on what you’re used to.
And while I like being outside I wouldn’t want to be cooped up in a hot place without plenty of air flow.
Over time, it does sap your strength and energy. And it’s particularly dangerous to the very old and very young, and people overweight.
It’s also true that I consciously work at drinking lots of water, and I do mean water. Not alcohol or anything with caffeine in it, which depletes your body’s liquids. I don’t always make the rmended eight glasses per day, but I don’t wait until I’m thirsty either.
I believe most Americans are dehydrated to a certain extent to begin with. If you are, going out into a hot, humid environment will dehydrate you more, and this is dangerous.
I also believe that sunlight is good for you, so I don’t advise using sunscreens. However, sunburn damages your skin, so you should not remain in direct sunlight for too long. Wear a hat with a wide brim, carry a parasol and sit in the shade underneath a big tree or your front porch. If you are someone else, especially a small child or elderly, suffers from a sunburn intense enough to raise blisters, get medical help, because that’s a second degree burn which can get infected.
Drink plenty of water. Did I mention that one?
If you have muscle cramps and spasms, take a rest. Get into air conditioning and drink half a glass of water every fifteen minutes.
It’s possible for victims of heat exhaustion to go into shock due to loss of fluids from overexerting themselves in the heat. Get them into air conditioning or at least the shade. Loosen their clothing to allow circulation. Keep them drinking cool water at regular intervals. If they start vomiting, seek medical attention.
In cases of heat stroke, the ways your body usually works to lower your temperature stop working. Heat stroke victims don’t sweat, or stop. The heart beats too quickly. Their breathing is fast and shallow. They may be unconscious.
This is a life-threatening condition. Get professional medical help for them immediately.
Be especially careful in ultra heat, such as the 115 degrees I once felt in Las Vegas. In the short term, to me, it felt good. But I soon had to return to the air conditioned hotel. I could tell that long term exposure to that heat, even though it was much drier than the tropical humidity I’m used to in St Louis, could be hard on the body.
So, don’t panic despite what the media wants you to do, but treat the heat with respect. Drink plenty of fluids and don’t overexert yourself for prolonged periods.
Richard Stooker has a long-time interest in health, diet and fitness subjects, including emergency preparedness and food storage, including emergency preparedness kits and supplies, and emergencies.