Summer health hazards

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 2 min read

Summer means vacations, swimming pools and backyard BBQs. But too much sun and heat can quickly derail summer fun and result in common conditions like dehydration, heat rash and sunburn. We share tips to help protect against heat-related conditions and illnesses so you can enjoy whatever adventures summer brings your way.

Summer heat and health

When it comes to summer’s sunshine and rising temps, no one is immune. And anyone who spends time outdoors can be at risk for heat-related conditions and illnesses including heat exhaustion. But some people are especially vulnerable and should take extra precautions including young children, people with chronic health conditions, those over age 65 and anyone who works outdoors.

When the mercury rises, keep your cool with these tips.

6 tips to beat summer heat

  1. Stay hydrated – Drink lots of water and other non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages. Aim for at least 64 oz. per day and drink more on days it’s especially hot or you’re more active.
  2. Protect your skin & eyes – Wear sunscreen and a hat or sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Also, keep skin covered and cool by wearing loose-fitting and light-weight clothing.
  3. Find some shade – Relax in the shade on hot sunny days. The temperature in the shade from a tree, umbrella or structure can be several degrees cooler.
  4. Cool down – Plan for ways to cool down on hot days. Go for a swim, take a cool shower, retreat to air conditioning, turn on a fan or drape a wet washcloth on your face and neck.
  5. Take a break – Feeling tired on a hot day? High temps make your body work harder which can leave you feeling tired – giving you the perfect excuse to take that 20 minute afternoon nap.
  6. Limit activity – Avoid exercise or other strenuous physical activity outdoors during midday hours. Save that walk or run for the early morning or later in the evening when it’s not as hot.

Signs of heat-related illnesses

Even if you are prepared, there may be times when the humidity and soaring temps catch you off guard. Thankfully, your body is really good at giving you messages that you’ve had enough sun and it’s time to retreat and find a way to cool off.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to take steps to cool your body down as soon as possible.

Signs your body is overheated

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Facial flushing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness

Extreme cases of overheating can put you at risk for heat stroke – a serious medical condition where an individual’s body temperature reaches 103°F or higher. In addition to the symptoms above, signs that someone is suffering from heat stroke can include confusion and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke, dial 911 immediately.

Stay healthy this summer

The summer months are a great time to enjoy outdoor activities. But too much sun can leave you feeling sunburned and overheated. Before venturing outside, have a plan for how to keep your cool and pay attention to signs that your body needs a break from the heat.

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