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Important to stay safe from heat in summer

OPINION by Corbet Deary | July 25, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
A crew member from Hot Springs Marina launches a boat into the lake. Heat safety precautions are important to take during days of intense heat during the summer. - Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

A friend recently shared a story of his close call with the heat and suggested that I write an article pertaining to warning signs, steps to take to avoid heat related illness and what to do if symptoms arise.

To be honest, I was somewhat reluctant to write such an article, as I have no background in human medicine. And I am certainly not qualified to suggest any means of treatment.

However, I was also aware that this is an issue that we should all be mindful of. In fact, to ignore the possibilities and warning signs of heat related illness could lend to devastating results.

That in mind, I opted to resort to the CDC's website. Of course, anybody with access to the internet will be privy to the same information I will share. But if nothing else, this article will be a reminder that we must be aware of the potential dangers of the summertime heat and the importance of being proactive.

Let's begin with heat related issues that are less serious. Many are fortunate in the sense that they have never suffered from overheating that demands immediate medical attention.

However, I suppose most people who spend time outdoors during the brunt of summer have experienced less severe issues. According to the CDC's website, those who have a heat rash should "stay in a cool, dry place, keep the rash dry and use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash."

So how about sunburns? Pretty sure we've all experienced this particular heat related ailment. The agency suggests that those who have a sunburn "stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals, put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath, put moisturizing cream on sunburned areas and do not break blisters."

Okay, let's address some issues that could potentially pose a greater danger. Some symptoms of heat cramps are "excessive sweating during intense exercise" and "muscle pain or spasms."

According to the CDC, those experiencing heat cramps should, "stop physical activity and move to a cool place, drink water or a sports drink and wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity." The website also explains that those who experience "cramps for longer than one hour, are on a low-sodium diet or have heart problems get medical help right away."

The symptoms of heat exhaustion are numerous and should not be ignored. One might notice "heavy sweating, cold, pale and clammy skin, a fast weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness, headache and fainting (passing out)."

The CDC suggests that those with heat exhaustion "move to a cool place, loosen your clothes, put cool, wet cloths on your body, take a cool bath and sip water."

The symptoms of a heat stroke are also numerous and should be taken seriously. Symptoms include, "high body temperature (103 degrees or higher),hot, red, dry, or damp skin, fast, strong pulse, headache. dizziness, nausea, confusion and losing consciousness (passing out)."

The CDC stresses, call 911 right away -- a heat stroke is a medical emergency. Move the person to a cooler place, help lower the person's temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath and do not give the person anything to drink.

As earlier mentioned, all of the information above can be found on the CDC's website at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html.

Just remember that heat related illnesses are preventable. And bear in mind that those who are mindful of the dangers of heat related illnesses and take the necessary steps to avoid overheating are far less likely to find themselves in distress.

Print Headline: Important to stay safe from heat in summer

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