Heat during the summer months can cause major issues and even tragic untimely death due to lack of understanding of how high the temperature really is during the day. Heat indexes usually reflex heat temperatures and humidity which directly affects the ozone exposure to our bodies. Ozone is good to protect the earth from the harmful rays of the sun but closer to us and breathing it is harmful to our bodies.
The general rule is: If you don’t have to go outside, don’t
Use these tips to get you through the summer months of high heat and humidity safely:
- Remember the buddy system and contact relatives, the elderly, neighbors or shut in community/church members during hot days.
- Limit infant’s exposure to extreme heat temperatures outside to less than 15 minutes.
- Use fans or air conditioners in good working conditions as needed. Clean filters frequently according to use. Make sure your central air units are serviced yearly or as needed.
- Provide water for pets traveling in the heat and offer temporary shade if needed.
- Use the air conditioner in your vehicle. If you do not have one make sure the windows are open while riding in the car.
- If you do not have fans or an air conditioner in your home or apartment, ALWAYS open the windows.
- Pull over to overpasses or go to shaded areas frequently if are having problems or are out in the sun and/or traveling for a long time.
- Prepare for power outages. Have candles, water and canned food supply ready to go for 3 days. The refrigerator will keep things cold for two hours without opening the door.
- Cool down with a wet wash cloth over your face, neck, arms and legs several times a day. Use a spritzer bottle as often as necessary to keep the body cooler and skin moist.
- Pull shades down and close blinds to prevent overheated rooms. Relocate to cooler areas of the house for activities and sleep downstairs if necessary.
- Take trips to public places that are air conditioned like the library, malls, movie theaters, community centers or eateries.
- Wear unrestrictive clothing and light colors. Cover as much skin as possible.
- Carry extra water in jugs or thermos.
- Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol limits the body from sweating normally.
- Limit your intake of caffienated beverages. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and pulls water out directly from the cells causing dehydration.
- Stay indoors if possible if the ozone levels are high. Breathing ozone can damage living cells especially cells lining the respiratory tract. It can cause swelling and inflammation aggrevating respiratory conditions.
- Do not leave any infants, toddlers, fragile children or adults or animals in the car for even a short period of time in extreme hot temperatures. Thinking you are just running into the store for 5 minutes can prove to be deadly.
- Stay inside if you have any respiratory condition, anemia or heart condition.
High heat temperatures put excess stress on the body. Being dehydrated coupled with the stress from the heat is an unsafe combination. Most people are not aware of what is happening until it is too late. Remember, the heat index is always higher than ambient air temperatures due to the humidity. If the temperature is high and the humidity is high, chances are you are going to have a harder time dealing with the heat due to less sweating. Sweating is the body’s way of getting rid of excess heat. Be care and be safe in hot weather.
Donna Marie Laino, RN