Though known for unpredictable weather, Kentucky in the summer can see temperatures near 100 degrees. When the mercury soars, it's important to take precautions to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.
Sun and heat related illness accounts for thousands of emergency department visits annually, but with some simple precautions illness and injury can be avoided.
When temperatures rise, staying hydrated is key to staying healthy. Avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages, which can actually lead to further dehydration. Drink more fluids than normal — roughly two to four glasses per hour.
It's also important to limit your time in the sun and heat if possible. Stick to the morning and evening hours for outdoor chores, like grass cutting and gardening. If you have to be in the sun during the hottest part of the day, take frequent breaks and seek a shaded area to rest. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and loose fitting, breathable clothing. Light colored clothing is best.
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When temperatures soar, it's important to stay indoors and out of the heat. If your home does not have air conditioning, visit a public space like a mall or library to stay cool during the heat of the day.
Heat-related injuries most commonly occur in men ages 65 and older, although children, young athletes and anyone engaging in outdoor activities in the summer sun can succumb to the heat. According to the CDC, heat-related illnesses account for about 700 deaths per year.
Heat-related injuries range from mild, such as heat rash and heat cramps that can be cured by going to a cooler room and staying hydrated with water, to severe concerns such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion can cause symptoms including headaches, heavy sweating, chills, dizziness, weak or rapid pulse, muscle cramps, shallow breathing and nausea or vomiting. This condition, if not treated quickly, can escalate to heat stroke, which can be deadly. Symptoms of heat stroke include dry skin with no sweating, rapid pulse, confusion, high fever, headache and nausea and/or vomiting.
If any of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke are present, it's important to seek immediate medical attention to prevent long-term health effects or even death. In case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.