Temperatures have reached all-time highs this summer and are rising. How can you and your loved ones stay safe in the heat? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for heat safety:

The best defense is prevention.

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask your doctor how much you should drink when the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar — these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library — even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to locate heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although anyone at anytime can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
    o Infants and young children
    o People aged 65 or older
    o People who have a mental illness
    o Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • Visit at-risk adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat:

  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) sunglasses and use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).
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