Summer is here, and with it comes all the fun in the sun. To ensure everyone has a safe summer Scott Allen, Administrator for the Webster County Health Unit, has offered some tips.
Many people will want to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors. With that comes the importance of proper hydration from drinking clear water. Contrary to popular belief, Allen explains, “Water does not come out of a beer can, soda bottle, or Gatorade. Even when you see professional athletes drinking Gatorade it is very diluted because they need water.”
Whatever activity you decide to do, whether hiking, working, swimming, or even sunbathing, the Webster County Health Unit recommends taking sips of water every 15 minutes. The amount of hydration does vary on the individual, and there are other factors, including medical conditions and age. Consult your doctor before doing anything. Regardless, you risk dehydration without water to keep your body cool, which could lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
As you are outside, you will notice a lot of sweating. That means your body is getting overheated. Allen explains that when this happens, “That is a sign you need to drink more water and cool off. You need to stop any strenuous activity you are doing and find a cool place to sit down, rest, and drink water.”
If you continue pushing, however, you may start getting what is known as heat cramps or muscle spasms throughout the body. These issues will lead to heat exhaustion which causes excessive sweating as the body is trying very hard to cool your body off. On the other hand, if left untreated, it could lead the body to stop sweating.
“When you quit sweating, that is a life-threatening medical emergency, and you need help right away,” says Allen. In addition, it is a sign that you are suffering from a heat stroke, also known as sunstroke. Allen mentions other signs of a heat stroke include “A person getting super hot and dry. Generally speaking, they could have really cherry-bright skin”. A heat stroke can also lead to brain damage or death if not treated quickly.
So should you spend the entire summer indoors with the air conditioning on full blast, avoiding the sun like a creature of the night? Of course not.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, a few other ways to enjoy the summer include the following.
Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and lightly colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. With the beautiful weather and clear skies we have had lately and upcoming throughout the summer, Allen mentions, “If you are out in the sun, it does not take long to burn.” He continues, “A good idea is to cover everything that will be exposed with a excellent sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the longer it will protect you from the sun.”
Other tips include taking frequent breaks and eating light, well-balanced meals.
Another idea that Allen mentions is, “It might be better to consider moving activities into the evening when everything is cooling off.”
One last tip to consider before going outside is to check the weather for the heat index or if there is a heat wave. It can be as easy as checking the local news or visiting weather websites like The Weather Network.
Whatever you decide to do during the summer, remember to be safe and drink plenty of water.
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