The sun is out and New Englanders are ready to bask in its glory. People are taking shorts and t-shirts out of storage, and caravans of sun-starved families and friends are heading to the beach. And while the summer heat is welcome after a long, chilly winter, there are risks that accompany it.
One of the most common dangers during the summer is the possibility of a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion or disorientation, headaches, and nausea. Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related illnesses, so be especially aware of this combination of symptoms: a high body temperature (103 degrees or higher), rapid pulse, and red, hot, dry skin. People age 65 or over, children age four or younger, and people who are overweight, ill or taking certain medications are at the greatest risk of developing a heat-induced illness. However, by taking a few simple precautions, it’s easy to stay safe in the sun and enjoy your summer.
- In high temperatures, your body needs to stay hydrated to function properly, so remember to drink plenty of water
- Schedule strenuous outdoor activities around dawn or dusk. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays cause the most damage between 10a.m – 4p.m.
- Eat light and well balanced meals that won’t weigh you down.
- Escape the heat by taking refuge in a good book at an air-conditioned Massachusetts public library. Or cool off at one of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s many public pools and spray decks!
- Wear cool, lightweight clothing. Dark colors attract more heat, so spice up your wardrobe with some bright colors this summer.
- Using air conditioning to cool your home can be expensive; stay cool and save money by setting your thermostat to higher temperatures when you aren’t home. If you don’t have A/C, remember that heat rises. If you live in a multi-story home, stick to the lower floors.
- When outside for extended periods of time, take shelter in shaded areas such as underneath awnings or trees. Wear an SPF 15 (or higher) sunscreen, a light, long-sleeved shirt, or a hat to avoid getting burned.
- Pets are also at risk of heat stroke. Don’t leave a pet outside, or in a hot vehicle, for long periods of time, and make sure they always have plenty of fresh water.
- Keep drapes or blinds shut on windows that let in mid-day sunlight.
- Invest in insulation or weather stripping for your home to keep cool air inside and save money on your energy bills.
If you’re feeling overly fatigued after a long day in the sun, call your doctor or visit the Center For Disease Control for more information on the treatment and care of those suffering from heat-related illnesses.
Join the conversation: How do you keep cool when it’s hot? Tweet @MassGov a photo of how you’re staying cool this summer!
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