With the summer heat coming, temperatures are expected to be higher than normal in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, heat-related illnesses can sneak up on people, even if they think they are taking precautions. This is why it’s best to take notice and take action to protect yourself from the heat.
Professor Naomi Jones teaches anatomy and physiology at Bellevue College and has previously worked in the healthcare industry. Her advice covers the general measures that people should know about in how to stay safe from the heat.
Hyperthermia, the overheating of the body, can occur even in mildly hot climates with prolonged exposure. “Children are at a greater risk of heat-related illnesses than adults due to their greater surface to body mass ratio,” Jones stated. “They also sweat less than adults, so are at a greater risk of overheating due to less ability to evaporate heat off.”
When going outdoors, make sure to bring a portable water bottle, and potentially some extras if you are staying out for a long amount of time. If you feel like you’re overheating, take some time to sit down and cool off by drinking some water. “A good recommendation would be eight ounces of cold water every 30 minutes or so. It’s better to drink small amounts more frequently,” Jones added.
The signs and symptoms can vary for different heat ailments, but they generally follow the same standards. Overly sweating and feeling faint are some signs that the body is trying to cool itself down. Muscle cramps are also common, or not being able to perform your best.
There happens to be clear differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can be caused by heat exposure, causing thirst, weakness and poor coordination. These symptoms can lead to heat stroke, where a person can lose consciousness. If someone is worried they or someone else might have a heat-related illness, stopping by a local care clinic is a good tip. They are also air-conditioned, which can help relieve symptoms.
Though heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most common ailments, there are other types that can occur. Exposure to heat can not only cause high body temperature, but is also responsible for skin burns and rashes. Layering your clothing might do worse for exposure, because although skin is not seeing direct sunlight, it can still cause a person to overheat. “Wear a single layer of lightweight clothing … sunscreen and a hat,” Jones concluded. “Don’t bundle babies, or they can overheat … Do more activities in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.”
However, it’s not just people who can be affected by heat illnesses. When dogs are in a hot environment, they usually pant, especially while walking or running. A sign of heat illness in dogs can be when the owner notices their dog abnormally panting, or stopping suddenly to catch their breath. If it happens for a prolonged period of time, it is usually best to rush them inside and run a damp cloth on their fur. However, heat lethargy can sometimes prompt dogs to not have the energy to consume food or water, so observe their eating habits to take the best course of action. To be the most aware, the CDC has a poster that shows the differences and similarities in different heat-related conditions. It’s important to stay safe and be aware of the signs and symptoms in order to prioritize your time outdoors without fear.