Welcome to summer! In many parts of the world it’s downright HOT right now and heat safety couldn’t be more important. With heat safety (like so many other health topics), it’s important to know fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Cooling fans work as well as air-conditioning.
Fact: Not So! When temperatures rise into the 90’s, fans are less effective than air-conditioning in preventing heat-related illness. In some situations, fans can actually make a room hotter by blowing around the hot air. Air-conditioning is the preferred way to stay cool in the heat. If you don’t have air-conditioning make sure you visit a friend or family member, go to a public place (mall, library, etc.) or contact your local health department to locate an air-conditioned shelter.
Myth #2: I should drink as much water as I possibly can during the heat.
Fact: Let’s break this down a little bit. YES- you should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and you should start hydrating BEFORE you feel thirsty. BUT, there can be too much of a good thing. Check with your doctor to see how much fluid is ok for you to drink. This is important because some people (with liver, kidney or lung problems for example) have restrictions on the amount of fluid that is safe to ingest. Furthermore, it is possible to develop toxicity from drinking too much water- so once again, check with your doc. Also, avoid alcohol as this can make dehydration worse.
Myth #3: If someone becomes unconscious due to heat it’s ok to just give them time to recover.
Fact: FALSE! If someone becomes unconscious, this is a medical emergency and you must call 911 immediately. While you are waiting on health professionals to arrive, move the person to a cooler place and use cold cloths on their body to help them cool down.
Myth #4: All people deal with heat in the same way.
Fact: Young children, people over 65 years old and those with chronic medical conditions are at high risk for heat illness. Keep this in mind- and don’t forget Fido as well. Animals may experience heat illness as well and shouldn’t be left in hot cars, etc.
Myth #5: If I develop heat cramps while working-out it’s ok to keep exercising.
Fact: Heat cramps can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you develop heat cramps, you should stop all activity, sit quietly in a cool place and hydrate. Hold off from resuming strenuous activity until your cramps are gone. If they don’t resolve in an hour, see your doc.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be sure to beat the heat this summer!