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June 11, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Beating the Heat this Summer

This is the second weekend in a row that parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast states will see heat index values rise to between 100-105F. South Texas could reach a heat index value near 110F. With the summer heat and humidity already in full force across parts of the southern U.S., it’s time to start thinking of ways you can beat the heat this summer.

Saturday: Hot and humid conditions will continue across the Gulf Coast states this weekend. Heat index values near 100F are likely for most areas with the highest values expected across South Texas. The extreme heat is indicated in the orange shading, the green represents the heavy rain potential and the red shows the threat for severe weather from the Plains into Ohio Valley.

Sunday/Monday: Highs will climb into the 90’s from Texas to Virginia with heat index values between 100-105F.

The summer heat takes a toll on our bodies, but especially for those that work outdoors or do strenuous exercises (i.e. runners, football practices, etc) that require you to be outdoors for long periods of time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat stroke kills approximately 300 people each year. What exactly causes a heat stroke? Well, usually our bodies are able to cool themselves off by sweating and radiating heat through the skin. However, a heat stroke is caused when heat builds up to dangerous levels and your body’s cooling system begins to fail. If a person becomes dehydrated and cannot sweat enough to cool their body, their internal temperatures may rise to dangerously high levels causing heat stroke.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

The following are the most common symptoms of heat stroke, although each individual may experience symptoms differently.

·         headache

·         dizziness

·         disorientation, agitation or confusion

·         sluggishness or fatigue

·         seizure

·         hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty

·         a high body temperature

·         loss of consciousness

·         rapid heartbeat

·         hallucinations

Here are a few recommendations you can follow to help stay safe in the summer heat.

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  2. Avoid the intense heat of the day by running errands, working outside or exercising early in the morning or late in the day.
  3. Dress in light, loose-fitting clothes. Avoid dark colored clothes which absorb heat.
  4. Be aware of what prescriptions you are taking because some of them, even over-the-counter ones, can increase the chance of heat-related illness. Antipsychotic medications, antihistamines, antidepressants and some muscle relaxants are just a few that generally interfere with sweating.
  5. Be safe and take extra precautions in the heat. Don’t overdo it!
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