How to avoid heat-related illnesses

Slow down.  Your body won't perform at its best when temperatures and humidity are high.

Heed your body's early warnings that heat illness is on the way.  Reduce your activities immediately and get into a cooler environment.

Avoid thermal shock.  Acclimatize yourself gradually to warmer weather.  Take it extra easy for the first two or three hot days.

Vary your thermal environment.  Physical stress increases with exposure time in heat wave weather. Try to get out of the heat for at least a few hours.

Stay hydrated.  Drink before you're thirsty and drink often.  Make sure you drink plenty of water before an activity, during and after.

Avoid "heat hangover."  Continue to drink fluids even after strenuous activity.  This will enable the body to maintain optimum hydration, and help prevent the after effects of heat exposure such as headaches and fatigue.

Wear a hat.  Keep your head and neck covered. The greatest amount of heat loss from the body occurs at the head. This is why it is important to wear a hat in the sun. Always wear light colored and lightweight clothing too.

Avoid alcohol.  Drinking beer, wine and liquor will speed up dehydration and can double the risks you face from the heat. Also avoid caffeine or large amounts of sugar.  Those will dehydrate the body as well.

Avoid very cold beverages.  They can cause stomach cramps.

Check on your neighbor.  Try doing this several times a day. This is especially important if they're older, in poor health or live alone.

Take extra care of young children.  Children are most susceptible to heat injury if they're 18 months or younger.

Eat light meals.  Foods like proteins, that increase metabolic heat production, also increase water loss. A full stomach may lead to cramps.

Stay in the shade.  Shade generally provides 10 degrees worth of relief from our heat.

Limit outdoor activity.  Avoid outdoor activity between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its peak intensity. If you have to be active during this time frame, drink a MINIMUM of 16-32 ounces of water EVERY HOUR.

Consult your physician.  Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter may increase the risk of heat related illness. Consult your physician if you have questions.

Free air conditioning!  Take advantage of shopping malls, movie theaters or the library to escape the heat for a few hours.

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