Being safe in a heat wave


A heat wave will hit this weekend with most areas reaching temperatures above 90 degrees. High temperatures are dangerous. Here are some ways to stay safe during a heat wave:

  • Stay hydrated and avoid dehydrating drinks
    Sweat reduces the amount of water, as well as sodium and potassium, in the body and thus, reduces the ability to regulate bodily functions. Drinking water is the best way to replenish the body’s water supply. However, sports drinks like Gatorade will work too. Sports drinks contain electrolytes which supplies the body with sodium and potassium. Cleveland Clinic says electrolytes help the body to not cramp.
  • Use a high SPF sunscreen and limit your time in the sun
    The skin releases melanin to protect the body from the UV rays. When exposed to the sun for a long duration, the melanin is overwhelmed by the UV rays and becomes toxic. The toxin causes sunburn. Severe and repeated sunburns can increase the chance of skin cancer. To protect yourself, use a sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor). The SPF indicates the effectivity of the sunscreen against UV rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreen should be at least 15 SPF and protects against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be applied half an hour before sun exposure and every two hours afterward.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose fitting clothing
    Choosing clothing that is lightweight, light-colored, and loose fitting can further help prevent sun exhaustion. This type of clothing reflects UV rays and does not soak up sweat.

  • Keep an eye out for signs of sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke Some of the most dangerous situations during a heat wave is heat illnesses. Heat cramps are pains and spasms in the arms, legs, and stomach.Heat exhaustion is characterized by excessive sweating, fatigue, dizziness, clammy skin, cramps, and flushed complexion. Heat stroke is more severe than heat exhaustion. Heat stroke contains symptoms such as dry and reddish skin, lack of sweating, fever, rapid pulse, chills, confusion, and slurred speech. Anyone who has these symptoms should seek a cool room. If symptoms last longer than an hour, seek medical help. 

  • Don’t leave children and pets in the car
    The LA Crosse National Weather Service conducted an experiment to determine how fast the temperature rises in a parked car. The study found the inside of a parked car with an initial temperature of 82 degrees reached over 120 degrees in two hours. The outside temperature reached a maximum of 95 degrees. The National Weather Services warns against leaving children and pets in the car, even for short periods of time. A child’s body tends to warm faster than an adult’s. Pets have fur that traps heat. Both situations lead to excessive sweating and to dangerously low amounts of water in the body.

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