Heat Safety

Posted on June 3, 2015


June is the official start of the summer, ushering in fun-in-the-sun!  Although the hot weather tends to give us a feeling of a nice, warm security blanket, we need to keep in mind several safety concepts for summertime fun.  Heat-related illnesses may occur due to dehydration, strenuous activity, and exposure to extreme heat situations.  Advanced age, extreme physical exertion, certain medications (i.e. beta blockers, diuretics, anti-depressants, and stimulants for ADHD), and certain medical conditions (i.e. heart disease, lung disease, and obesity) may increase one’s risk for heat-related illnesses.  Below is an overview of several heat-related illnesses and tips to avoid complications.

  • Sunburn
    • That shade of RED looks so lovely on you…
      • Sunburn is caused by our body’s reaction to UV rays that are naturally occurring in the earth’s atmosphere
      • 90% of UV rays are able to pass through clouds, meaning that it is common to burn even on cloudy days
      • Prolonged or repeated issues with sunburn may lead to complications including thin, dry skin, wrinkles, skin cancer, and cataracts
  • So, you got burned…
    • Beyond the pink skin, sunburn may also cause swelling, blistering, headache, and fatigue
    • Our body attempts to heal itself by “peeling” off the top layer of damaged skin
    • Most sunburn can be self-treated with topical lotions, but if your pink skin is accompanied by high fever, extreme pain, confusion, nausea, red streaking or yellow drainage you should see a physician
  • Sunburn Prevention
    • Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight between 10am and 4pm
    • Use a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher and re-apply every 2 hours or after swimming
    • Utilize sunscreen with Broad spectrum coverage (blocks UVA and UVB)
    • Wear sunglasses
    • Dehydration
      • Isn’t that a Beach Boys’ song?  “I’m picking up De-Hy-Dray-tion”?
        • Dehydration occurs when our bodies lose more fluid than we take in
        • Symptoms include dry skin, fatigue, thirst, decrease urine volume, dark colored urine, headache, dizziness, dry mouth, low blood pressure, seizures, kidney failure, and progression to Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke
  • How do I treat Dehydration?
    • Rehydrating with water or special rehydration fluids (i.e. pedialyte)
    • Avoid drinking caffeine, soda, fruit juices, and alcohol
    • Seek medical attention and IV fluids if dehydration becomes severe and is accompanied by confusion/seizures/loss of consciousness
    • Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stoke
      • Isn’t that what happens in August when we are just tired of all the hot weather?!?!
        • Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that may occur after heavy exercise/sweating or lack of fluid and salt intake
        • Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion include dizziness, nausea, heavy sweating, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, cool/moist/pale skin, cramps, headache, and fatigue
        • Heat Stoke is the sudden onset of a high fever (> 104 degrees) that may lead to brain, heart, muscle, and kidney damage)
        • Symptoms of Heat Stroke include fever, lack of sweating, nausea/vomiting, flushed (red) skin, rapid breathing/heart rate, headache, confusion, seizures, and shock
  • Prevention of Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
    • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day
    • Drink plenty of water
    • NEVER leave a child in a parked car
  • What do I do if I think someone may have Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke?
    • Get out of the sun and into air conditioning
    • Lie down and elevate your legs
    • Loosen tight clothing
    • Drink cool, non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages
    • Apply cool compresses
    • Monitor closely and call 911 if fever >104 degrees, confusion, or seizures


June 1st Advantage “What I live for” Connection:

“What I live for is the time that I spend with my husband, four-year-old daughter, and eight-month-old son.  We love the outdoors, so hydration and outdoor safety is very important to us.  As avid backpackers, my husband and I have had our share of issues with sunburn, dehydration, and heat exhaustion in our youth.  We have learned from our mistakes and now that we have two cute little hikers in tow, we are always much more careful with our health while enjoying summer activities.  Nothing is more precious to us than the smiles on the faces of our kiddos when they get to experience some fun-in-the-sun!”

— Jess Haag, DPT, CWcHP

Director of Workers’ Compensation Services

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