Summer heat safety precautions you need to know
During summer does your family spend a lot more time outdoors? That can be great for everyone's health but when the sun's rays are their strongest and temperatures are at their highest you need to take summer heat safety precautions to avoid dangerous heat illnesses and sunburn. When you spend a large portion of the day outdoors at a party on vacation or at the kids' game make sure you're taking these precautions to avoid heat illness.
Watch out for heat emergencies
The Red Cross advises that you always check local weather forecasts to stay aware of temperature changes as a first course of action to avoiding summer heat safety hazards. The National Weather Service initiates a Heat Advisory alert whenever the daytime heat index rises above 105 degrees Fahrenheit which the Red Cross notes can feel even 15 degrees hotter in direct sunlight putting you at risk for heat emergencies.
MedlinePlus notes that heat illness is the mildest form of heat emergency and the symptoms include muscle cramps fatigue and unusually heavy sweating. Untreated this can escalate to heat exhaustion which if someone is exhibiting or reporting symptoms like dizziness vomiting or cool moist skin could escalate to heatstroke which is very serious. If someone has a high fever is acting strangely is having trouble breathing or loses consciousness call 911 immediately.
In an article on outdoor workers and heat stress the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that workers performing moderate activity in moderately hot weather have one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Summer TV ads abound showing alcoholic drinks cola iced coffees and iced teas satisfying thirst but according to Johns Hopkins Medicine these drinks actually cause dehydration so sticking to water is a good strategy. In addition Harvard Health recommends eating smaller meals and fluid-containing foods like fruit and salad to help stave off heat stroke. The Mayo Clinic recommends wearing loose flowy garments in light shades.
Protect against dangerous sunburns
According to the Melanoma Education Foundation the more sunburns a person has in their lifetime the higher their risk of developing skin cancer. Since a lot has changed about sunscreen in recent years here's what you need to know:
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration now says that only sunscreens that pass a standardized test can be labeled as "broad spectrum" which means they protect against UVA and UVB (which both cause sunburn and skin cancer).
- The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advises that you use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
- To get the full protective sunscreen benefit the AAD recommends applying a full ounce to your entire body and reapplying fully if you sweat it off or come out of the water - and once every two hours in the sun otherwise.
- Both the AAD and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise that babies under six months old should not use sunscreen or be directly exposed to the sun.
Download the free Red Cross first aid app (for Apple or Android) to use for immediate advice for everyday emergencies including how to prepare for the heat and deal with a heat emergency.