the hot weather we are now experiencing, you will need to
increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.
Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink as you will already
be significantly behind. On average, when we are thirsty we
are around 750 to 1000ml behind!!!
Avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts
of sugar such as soft drinks and sugary juices, these actually
cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks,
because you tend to drink only small amounts. As a guideline
consider 32ml/kg of body weight per day. Always carry a bottle
of water with you and have a sip regularly.
Replace salt and minerals
Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These
are necessary and must be replaced.
Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen
Exposure to the sun is vital for our health so that we get
sufficient amounts of vitamin D, but getting sunburnt is not
a good idea. Wear as little clothing as possible when you
are at home. Choose lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting
clothing. Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself
and causes additional loss of body fluids. It also causes
pain and damages the skin. When you go outdoors, protect yourself
from the sun by wearing a hat or a cap and by putting on sunscreen
of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue
to reapply it according to the product directions.
Schedule outdoor activities carefully
Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening
hours when the heat and sun intensity are milder. Try to rest
in shady areas so that your body's thermostat will have a
chance to recover.
If you are not accustomed to exertion in a hot environment,
start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in
the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for
breath then STOP and rest. Get into a cool area or at least
into the shade and rest, especially if you become lightheaded,
confused, weak or faint. And use a buddy system, so that you
always let someone know where you are planning to go and when
you hope to be back.
Those at high risk
Although all of us can suffer from heat-related problems,
some people are at greater risk than others.
- Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects
of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their
environments and provide adequate liquids.
- People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for
heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and
respond to change in temperature.
- People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness
because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
- People who overexert during work or exercise may become
dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness.
- People who are ill (fever) or with chronic diseases, especially
with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain
medications, such as for depression, insomnia or poor circulation,
may be affected by extreme heat.
- Visitors from a cooler climate will need a few days to
become acclimated before attempting long walks, trips or
outings, so work up to it gradually.
Do not leave children in cars
Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures
very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior
temperatures can rise dangerously
Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its
temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating
mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body
temperature may rise to 41°C or higher.
Recognizing heat stroke
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
- an extremely high body temperature (above 40°C)
- red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
- rapid, strong pulse
- throbbing headache
What to do
If you see any of these signs, beware. Have someone call for
immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim.
Do the following:
- Get the victim to a shady area.
- Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can.
For example: spray the victim with cool water from a garden
hose, sponge the person with cool water and fan him or her
- If the victim is able, give them water to drink.
- Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Symptoms of sunburn are well known: the skin becomes red,
painful and abnormally warm after sun exposure. When sunburnt
you are at more risk of getting heat stroke.
What to do
Consult a doctor if the sunburn affects an infant younger
than one year of age or if these symptoms are present: fever,
fluid-filled blisters or severe pain.
Also, remember these tips when treating sunburn:
- avoid repeated sun exposure
- apply cold compresses or immerse the burnt area in cool
- apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas and do not
use butter or ointment (oil-based skin preparations)
- do not break blisters, if blisters do break leave the
skin where it is, it is the best dressing you could have.
So, enjoy the summer, drink water regularly and do not get
(Posted 12 November 2010)