Who doesn't love summer? Pool parties, bonfires, and soaking up some Vitamin D. Although many of us look forward to this season, we should also keep in mind the risks the summer heat can bring.
As global temperatures rise, extreme heat, also known as heat waves, are becoming more and more common. It's important to understand the dangers of heat waves and know the best tips on staying cool to protect yourself.
The Dangers of Heat Waves
Heat waves can lead to heat-related illnesses, ranging from more mild conditions like heat exhaustion to severe conditions like heatstroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headache, and excessive sweating. A heatstroke on the other hand can cause organ damage and seizures.
During heat waves, your bound to sweat more, especially if you're hanging out outside. Excessive sweating can quickly deplete your body of fluids and can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, confusion. If not treated, it can even lead to more severe complications, such as kidney stones or urinary tract infections.
High temperatures and poor air quality during heat waves can make respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis even worse. The combination of heat and air pollution can make it difficult to breathe and increase the risk of respiratory distress.
Heat waves put an extra strain on the cardiovascular system, particularly for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. The heat can increase heart rate and blood pressure, potentially leading to heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular complications.
Vulnerability for Children, The Elderly, and More
Certain groups are more vulnerable to the dangers of heat waves, including the elderly, children, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses, and people who work outdoors. These groups are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and require extra precautions and attention during extreme heat events.
Staying Cool During a Heat Wave
Drinking plenty of fluids is important all the time but especially during heat waves. Water is the best choice to keep yourself hydrated, and although you may be tempted to grab any cold beverage, you should avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks as they can contribute to dehydration.
A good tip is to set reminders to drink water regularly throughout the day, or download an app like Arc7 to hold you accountable with your water intake.
Hang Out in the Air Conditioning
Choose an air conditioned place to hang out with friends or family and reschedule that backyard barbecue if you need to. If you don't have access to air conditioning at home, consider visiting public places with air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day.
Create a Cool Environment
If you don't have air conditioning or it's limited, use fans, close curtains or blinds, and keep windows closed during the hottest times of the day to prevent hot air from getting inside. You can also create your own DIY cool oasis by placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan to circulate cool air. For bedding and clothing, opt for lightweight fabrics.