This is post #3 in our inaugural Summer Safety Series! If you missed them, check out our other posts in the series here:
#1. Hot Tips for Your Family, Part 1 [pools, trampolines, and food poisoning]
#2. Help! I’ve Created A Lobster! [sun safety]
The goal is to beat the heat — not let the heat beat you! In Southern California, where summer temps can boil well past 100 °F, beating heatstroke and sun sickness can be a real challenge. And yet, despite being mostly preventable, extreme heat accounts for more than 600 deaths every year and countless other related illnesses. Populations most at risk went hot weather comes calling include those aged 65+, children under the age of two, and anyone with chronic or mental illness. But just because you’re in your twenties and your immune system is strong, doesn’t mean you can kick back and let the heat waves wash over you. Everyone is endangered.
For those at risk, it’s vital that they be checked on. Are they drinking enough water? Is there anywhere nearby with air conditioning, like a public library, that they can hang out? In what other ways might they need help keeping cool?
It’s well-known that air conditioning puts a strain on the electrical grid. In July of last year, when temperatures crested above 110 °F, thousands of residents through the Southland found themselves without power, forced to seek shelter elsewhere in order to survive. Despite this strain, there really are no two ways about it: A.C. is a life-saver, especially for the elderly.
Don’t think you can rely solely on a fan to keep you cool. You must take other preventative steps. These might include:
- Increasing your fluid intake. In the heat, stay away from coffee and caffeine — they will only dehydrate you. Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, and replenish your electrolytes with sports drinks like Gatorade.
- Take cool baths or showers. On any other day of the year, taking a cold shower might seem like madness reserved for only the most dogged of masochists, but on a hot day it won’t just refresh you: it will cool you down.
- Limit your outdoor activities, especially during the midday hours. Fun in the sun won’t be much fun if it lands you in the hospital (even if said hospital happens to be air conditioned).
- If you must be outdoors for sports practice, don’t go straight to sprinting. Start gradually and pace yourselves… and make sure you check on your teammates often (and vice versa).
- Where loose clothing and lightweight clothing… and stick to lighter colors. Sure, that all-black goth look might be on-trend, but dark colors absorb more heat than lighter ones. And take off that heritage trench coat from Burberry. Yes, it’s cute, but the last thing you should be wearing is an easy-bake oven.
- Finally, never leave pets or children in hot cars. Ever! This is a topic we will be covering in greater detail in an upcoming post, but we would be remiss if we did not mention it here as well. It’s the type of reminder every parent could use, because all it takes is one lapse in memory. It could happen to anyone.
If you see signs of heat-related illness in yourself or a loved one, you should seek medical attention immediately. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are not to be trifled with! But how do you differentiate between the two? Though heat exhaustion is very dangerous, it’s not an immediate medical emergency — but heat stroke IS! Mistaking the latter for the former could have serious consequences, so it’s vital that we all know the warning signs. It’s also necessary to point out that heat exhaustion, if left unchecked, could turn into heat stroke.
To help clear up a lot of the confusion surrounding the different kinds of heat related illnesses, we wanted to share the following infographic from the Centers for Disease Control. Don’t be afraid to save it to your phone, so you always have a pocket guide at your disposal.
THIS INFORMATION IS SO IMPORTANT!
Surviving Summer Should Not Be Hard
Humans have been making it to the fall equinox for millennia untold — and your family can too. It just takes a bit of awareness. Knowing the dangers that come hand-in-hand with the summer months make it that much easier to prevent them. And heat-related illnesses and deaths are just that: preventable. When the mercury starts to make a new run at the record books, it’s imperative that we band together as a community. Check on your neighbors. Remind your coworkers to drink water. Discourage your teammate from practicing his hurdling form at 12:00 PM sharp.
Heatstroke isn’t cool… but caring for one another is.
This was the third post in The Howard Blau Law Summer Safety Series. Over the coming weeks we’ll be visiting a variety of topics relevant to your family and loved ones, from the bugs that bother, to the risks of illegal fireworks, to the dangers of hot cars — and more!
If you have a topic you’d like us to cover in this series, let us know in the comments or on Facebook.
Stay safe out there, and Happy Summer!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Heatstroke.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
“Heat Safety for Kids and Teens.” Slate. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
“Summer Safety Tips.” National Safety Council. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
“Make Summer Safe for Kids.” Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved 19 June 2019.