"Beat the heat" in hot weather
by Shelby Stanley
Heat-related illnesses occur when a person’s body is in a high-temperature environment and cannot cool down. Illnesses range from mild - heat rash, sunburn and heat cramps - to those that are more serious and can even be life threatening - heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke.
Some people are more likely than others to get sick from the heat, like older adults (age 65 and older), infants and children, pregnant women and outside workers. Caregivers, relatives and neighbors should check on those who are more susceptible to heat illness and make sure they are hydrated and out of the sun.
It’s important to make sure you never leave infants and children alone in a vehicle. Temperatures rise quickly in vehicles and children are more susceptible to heat stroke.
When the temperature rises, there are three things everyone needs to do: keep cool; drink fluids; and lie low. While an air conditioner works wonders to keep people cool, not everyone has them in their homes. If this is the case, find a public place that has air conditioning, such as a store or public library, to keep cooler.
Wearing sunscreen and a hat when going into the sun is important for preventing sunburns, but the sun should be avoided as much as possible. Wearing light-colored and loose-fit clothing will also keep you cooler and more comfortable.
Drinking fluids to stay hydrated is also very important to prevent heat illness. Even if you haven’t been active, it’s still best to drink plenty of water. Try to avoid drinks like alcohol and caffeine, as they dry your body out.
You should try to lie low and take frequent breaks from physical activity to avoid sweating and dehydration. Activity during the hottest part of the day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., should also be avoided.
If you or someone you know is experiencing serious heat illnesses such as severe dehydration or heat stroke, please call 911. For more information on heat illnesses, visit https://www1.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/heat/.
Shelby Stanley is a communications major at Endicott College who interned with MaineGeneral's Marketing & Communications Department last summer.