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Beat the Heat: Summer Fun Health and Safety Tips

With Summer now in full swing, here are some tips to keep your cool in the heat – and stay healthy.

TIP 1: Avoid the Burn

To avoid painful sunburns, steer clear of the most intense sun of the day, which is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Consider wearing sun protective clothing. It absorbs or blocks harmful UV radiation and remains an effective form of protection against sun damage and skin cancer.

And to protect your skin from skin cancer – use sunscreen! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following tips selecting and applying sunscreen.

  • Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Read product labels. Look for a waterproof brand if you will be sweating or swimming. Buy a nonstinging product or one specifically formulated for your face.
  • Buy a brand that does not contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) if you are sensitive to that ingredient.
  • Barrier products such as good old zinc oxide work great for nose lips and ears.
  • Be aware of the expiration date because some sunscreen ingredients might degrade over time.
  • Apply sunscreen approximately 30 minutes before being in the sun (for best results) so that it can be absorbed by the skin and less likely to wash off when you perspire.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming or strenuous exercise.
  • Apply sunscreen often throughout the day if you work outdoors.

TIP 2: Hydrate – Water is Life!

Make sure you’re getting in the H2O your body needs, which is likely to be more than what you need in other seasons. Our bodies try to cool down through the natural process of sweating, which can cause dehydration. This makes it essential to drink more water, especially if you’re working or exercising outdoors. Interestingly, CDC studies show that among U.S. adults, plain water intake is significantly lower in older adults.

Remember, caffeinated drinks don’t count. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and can cause you to be dehydrated. Make sure your kids and grandkids are getting enough water, too. Here are the proper ways to stay hydrated (from the CDC):

  • The standard advice is half of your body weight in ounces.
  • Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
  • Freeze some freezer safe water bottles.
  • Choose water over sugary drinks.
  • Opt for water when eating out.
  • Serve water during meals.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water.

TIP 3: Know the Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

Excessive exposure to high temperatures and high humidity (especially combined with strenuous physical activity) can lead to heat exhaustion. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can quickly turn to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition.

Being able to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion can save a life. The Mayo Clinic includes the following signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

If you think you or someone you’re with is experiencing any of these signs while outside this summer, take these three steps, right away: Stop all activity and rest; Move to a cooler place; and Drink cool water or sports drinks. If symptoms worsen or don’t improve in one hour, seek medical assistance.

Resources

About the Author

Bret Kueber, M.D.

Assistant Medical Director
Bret Kueber, M.D.

Dr. Kueber (pronounced KEE-brr) joined the Clinic full time in March 2022. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, he completed his residency in Family Practice at the Cleveland Clinic. He is board certified in Family Medicine. As an avid sportsman, he has a special interest in sports medicine and is a […]

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