Summer is definitely upon us! The days have heated up and the humidity is high. The wheat harvest has begun in earnest. Summer is a time to get out and enjoy the sunshine and the warmth before winter sets in again. It’s a time to enjoy family vacations, time with children and grandchildren. We all also do a lot of yard work, gardening and other outside chores which can lead to some heat related issues. Following is an article from WebMD concerning the dangers of heat stroke, treatment in the event of heat stroke, and what we can do to avoid it: “Heat stroke is a big problem for workers who are overdoing it on the job and can’t say, ‘I have to cool down and take a break,'” says Sue Leahy, president of the American Safety and Health Institute in New Paltz, N.Y. “Older people, too, are susceptible, especially in a hot apartment with no air conditioning. Stay ultra-hydrated to avoid heat stroke,” she says. “Water is OK, but Gatorade and PowerAde with electrolytes are far better because they help replace salt and retain fluid,” she says.
Knowing the warning signs is also key to staving off serious trouble, she says. “The first sign is cramping in the legs, and if that occurs, cool off and drink fluid until it goes away because if you don’t, it can progress to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke,” Leahy cautions. “Cramping — especially a cramp in the leg — is a sign that the body is losing salt and electrolytes, and you really ought to heed it,” Leahy tells WebMD. “Cramping and light sweating gives way to more profuse, heavier sweating, feeling lightheaded and maybe a little nauseous, and then you hit heat stroke, your body stops sweating, and can no longer cool itself,” she says.
Another peril of heat stroke is that as the body gets hotter and hotter, your blood gets thick and sludgy and makes you more likely to have a stroke, she says. Some of the signs of heat stroke include: Red, hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, confusion, and dizziness. “Let the body cool down naturally in early stages of heat exhaustion, but if you miss the signs and it progresses, put ice packs on the groin, armpits and neck where blood flows close to the surface,” she says. Other ways to cool the body include immersing the body in cool water, placing the person in a cool shower, or wrapping the person in a cool, wet blanket.
Rules to Live By
“When you are sweating too much, it’s time to come out of the sun,” she says. I wouldn’t do anything in the hot sun for longer than 15 or 20 minutes at a clip because the body can lose a significant amount of water content from sweating — setting you up for heat stroke.”
It’s not just heat that makes summer fun problematic, she says. “Cold is big problem when kids are out swimming and have been in the water so long that their lips are blue, they are shivering, and their body temperature has dropped.” Make them warm back up to 98.6 before they go back in, no matter how much they plead. “All kids want to do is have fun, so a parent has to be a parental and make sure that they warm up.”
Children pose a special challenge during the summer, says Denise Salerno, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Temple University in Philadelphia. No matter what the potential peril is, “the key is being prepared. Travel with a little first aid kit and make sure you have it where it’s readily available to save trips to the ER,” she says. “The biggest warning that a kid is getting overheated is if they are complaining and have started to sweat,” she says. Remember that “if it gets to an extreme, they don’t sweat. If a child complains of lightheadedness, take them out of the game.” To nip heat stroke in the bud, “take them into a cool place and make sure they are hydrated with water or a sports drink.”
May the peace of Christ be with all of you this summer and may it be a safe and happy one.