29 Jun Heat Stroke Prevention
It’s all too easy to overdo things in the warm days of summer, but you can prevent heat stroke by staying hydrated and avoiding vigorous exercise in hot, humid weather. It also helps to wear hats and lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes.
Signs to watch for
If you’re dehydrated, you may feel dizzy and lightheaded, have dry lips and tongue, urinate infrequently with small amounts of very concentrated urine, and experience low energy levels.
If you’ve progressed to heat stroke, you may experience clammy skin, chills, nausea, and muscle pains or spasms. Immediately move to a cool place, take off excess clothing, and drink cool liquids. If your symptoms don’t improve, be sure to seek medical attention.
Start off well hydrated. Also, drink plenty of fluids while you’re physically active or outdoors for a long time: 5 to 10 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes.
If you feel thirsty, you’re probably dehydrated. Even if you quench your thirst, however, you could still be dehydrated.
Check the colour of your urine as a quick guide to how well hydrated your body is. If it’s pale yellow and odourless, you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, orange-yellow with an odour, you need to drink more fluids to reduce the risk of heat stroke.
What to drink
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, including soft drinks and iced tea, as these can lead to dehydration. Instead, choose cool water or diluted fruit juices (mixed with plain or sparkling water).
Your body also needs to replace electrolytes (e.g. sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), especially if you are sweating a lot or doing vigorous physical activity for more than an hour.
If you want to avoid sports drinks, you can make your own with a mixture of 1 ½ cups water, ¼ tsp. salt, 2 ½ cups fruit juice, and ¼ cup lemon juice.
What to eat
A healthy diet can usually supply all the electrolytes you need, but being active in the heat can make extra demands. Choose specific foods to help replenish electrolytes more quickly:
- banana for potassium
- pinch of salt to a cup of water for sodium and chloride
- 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup yogurt, or spinach or kale for calcium
- pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, almonds, cashews, beans, or spinach for magnesium.
False weight loss
Think again if you believe that quick weight loss on a hot summer’s day is permanent. It’s far more likely that the pound of weight you lost reflects a loss of about two cups of fluid from your body. And it needs to be replaced by drinking fluids!
Don’t ever leave babies, children, or pets unattended in a car, locked or unlocked. Do keep your car locked when it’s not in use, so that children can’t play in it. Small bodies are especially vulnerable to heat stroke.
Depending on where you live, preventing heat stroke may be a bigger or smaller challenge. Just be sure to pay attention so that you have a happy, healthy summer.