As temperatures continue to soar throughout Southwest Louisiana, whether you're working or playing outside, the medical professionals at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital urge you to take common sense steps to stay safe in the extreme heat. Here are some tips for beating the heat this summer.
Be Aware of Heat-Related Illness
The body is designed to keep you cool. But when it's hot and humid, your body can't always keep up. The result may be heat-related illness. If you're exercising, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over 7 to 10 days. Stay hydrated and exercise during cooler parts of the day — early morning or after sunset. Water exercises are the perfect way to work out under the sun without overheating. You can get a total body workout without even breaking a sweat!
Whether you're working or exercising, your body will tell you when it's in trouble. The signs include weakness, rapid heart beat, dizziness, nausea, headache and dry mouth. If any of these symptoms occur, stop what you're doing and cool down. If that's not enough, get medical help immediately.
Drink 16 to 32 ounces of water per hour during activity. If you're going to be in the heat for more than 90 minutes, try a sports drink, which replaces lost salt and minerals. However, if you're on a low-salt diet, ask your doctor before choosing sports drinks. For infants and young children, solutions such as Pedialyte will help maintain electrolyte balance during illness or heat exposure. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine; they make the heat's effects on your body worse.
Dress for Success
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing such as cotton. Choose clothes that "breathe," or allow air to circulate between the skin and fabric. Light-colored clothing will reflect the sun's heat away from your body. Look for labels that indicate moisture wicking and sun protection.
Be Sun Smart
If you can, avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun is strongest. Wear sweat-proof sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more, and reapply at least every two hours. Don't forget your scalp — wear a hat or apply sunscreen. Also, wear sunglasses that offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection. If it is too hot, stay indoors
If you have a health condition, such as heart disease or asthma, ask your doctor if you should take any precautions before working or exercising in the heat. Even illnesses such as a cold or the flu can decrease the body's ability to deal with heat. Take a day off from exercising or decrease the intensity if you're not feeling well.