Keeping your cool: How to avoid a heat-related illness

Carilion Clinic offers pointers on how to beat the heat and symptoms to look out for

Preventing heat-related illnesses
Preventing heat-related illnesses

ROANOKE, Va. – Covid-19 has many of us enjoying the summer heat like never before, but make sure you’re braving the heat safely.

The risks are there; sunburn, heatstroke, heat rash, heat exhaustion, dehydration and the list goes on. Carilion Clinic trauma outreach coordinator, Arwen Quinn RN, BSN said all of those conditions are preventable.

According to the CDC, more than 600 people die in the U.S. a year due to a preventable heat-related illness.

Quinn told 10 News, whenever the temperature rises they do see an increase in those heat-related cases, especially when people are outside in the sun drinking alcohol because it can make you more dehydrated.

Quinn said there are a number of things to keep in mind before you head outside this summer.

“You want to make sure you stay hydrated, that you stay cool. If it’s very hot outside try to organize your activities for the cooler parts of the day, in the morning or late afternoon hours. Also, sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool so you should wear sunscreen.”

Quinn advises you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of 15 or more and put on sunscreen 30 minutes before you go out so it has a chance to soak in.

Here are some tips from the American Heart Association:

  • Get off on the right foot. You probably sweat the most in your shoes, so choose well-ventilated shoes and look for socks that repel perspiration. Foot powders and antiperspirants can also help with sweat.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton, or a synthetic fabric that repels sweat. Add a hat and/or sunglasses.
  • Drink up. Before you get started, apply a water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours. Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during and after your exercise. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
  • Take regular breaks. Find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again.

The American Heart Association and Carilion Clinic are working to make sure people know the difference between a stroke and a heat stroke. They are completely different, but have one thing in common: timing is everything

Whether you’re going for a quick jog or doing yard work know there is the possibility of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and a heat stroke. According to the American Heart Association, heat strokes are the most serious.

Symptoms include a fever of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, dry, hot, red skin, extreme confusion and rapid shallow breathing. If you experience those symptoms you need to get medical care as soon as possible.

“People may be stressed out about coming to the hospital right now because of Covid-19 and may be hesitant to call 911 but it’s important to remember if you notice these symptoms in patients/people getting them to medical attention as soon as possible improves their outcomes,” said Quinn.

For a look at symptoms for different heat-related illnesses, click here.

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