Stay Cool This Summer

When the body cannot deal with the heat coming from the environment because its heat-regulating mechanisms are not working, hyperthermia can occur.

“Heat stroke, when the body’s temperature rises above 103 degrees, is the most severe form of hyperthermia and can be life threatening,” says Raul Casares, RN, BSN, and Emergency Department Director at Fort Duncan Regional Medical Center.

Here, he relays facts and offers tips for prevention and treatment.

Preventing Heat Illness in Young Athletes

  • Schedule sports activities and practices early in the morning or late in the day.
  • Start activities slow and pick up the speed gradually.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, and drink more than usual.
  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing.

Never Leave Children or Pets Alone in the Car

  • Half of heat stroke deaths occur because a caregiver forgot the child in a car.
  • Cars can heat up 20 degrees in 10 minutes.
  • Cracking the windows or parking in shade does not make the car much cooler.
  • Children’s body temperatures can increase up to five times faster than adults.

The Elderly May Need Help When it’s Hot

  • Those with chronic medical conditions should stay indoors in extreme weather.
  • Those without air conditioners should visit malls, movie theaters and libraries.
  • Some medications cause reduced sweating — a risk for hyperthermia.
  • Age-related conditions, such as impaired blood circulation can increase risk.

If Overheating Occurs

Stop all activity and move the person to a shaded or air-conditioned location. For heat exhaustion, have him or her lie down, loosen clothing and sip tepid water. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the neck, armpits and groin. If you suspect heat stroke (body temperature above 103° F), do not let the person drink liquids and call 9-1-1.