It’s been hot this summer. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many heat warnings on my weather app. In February we dream of this kind of weather but now that it’s here we are experiencing a full dose of how uncomfortable it can be. In addition to the discomfort this type of heat can be dangerous especially if you’re exerting yourself by working or exercising in it.
There are 3 health risks of prolonged exposure to heat. In the order of severity they are: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
- Heat Cramps: These are painful, involuntary muscles that can occur during intense exercise/work in the heat. The spasms can be more intense than the nighttime leg cramps. The muscles most often affected are calves, arms, abs and back.
- Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse. Exposure to high temperatures, especially combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity can result in the body overheating. Without treatment it can lead to heatstroke.
- Heatstroke: This happens when the body’s core temperature reaches 40° C or higher. Symptoms include disorientation and a lack of sweat. If left untreated it can lead to unconsciousness, organ failure and death if left untreated.
Should you or someone you’re with experience the symptoms of heat cramps or heat exhaustion stop what you’re doing. Get to a cool place and hydrate with water or an electrolyte* drink. If you suspect heatstroke, get to medical attention as soon as possible.
*there are so many on the market experiment to find the one that works best for you.
Of course, it’s best to avoid the risk in the first place.
- When possible schedule activities for early in the day or after the sun goes down.
- Take frequent breaks in a cool area (shaded or air conditioned).
- Stay out of the sun.
- Hydrate. Drinking water is great but sometimes an electrolyte drink is a more effective option.
- Check the weather. If it’s going to be too hot reschedule the activity. Better to be safe.
We wait so long to enjoy the summer months that we tend to overlook that heat can be dangerous. It’s easy to talk ourselves into getting out there when we really shouldn’t. That’s why it’s so important to know the risks and train ourselves to recognize the symptoms of getting overheated. Get to know your limits and respect them.
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