Avoiding Heat-Related Emergencies
Posted by LauraLovesFitness
It looks like the true “dog days” of summer have arrived. New York City is emptier than ever as people take advantage of these last pre-back-to-school weeks to pack up the family and get out of town. If you have your own plans to spend extra time soaking up the sun at the beach, the park, or in your own backyard, be sure to use some common sense to stay safe in the warmer weather.
I must say we New Yorkers have been pretty lucky this summer. After a miserable winter, the last couple of months haven’t felt like the typical sauna I’ve grown accustomed to living in the concrete jungle of Manhattan. However, with most of August ahead of us, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to remind everyone how to recognize heat-related illnesses. Sometimes water, sunscreen and a good hat can’t prevent an unexpected emergency – especially if you’re exercising outdoors.
Here’s what you need to know if you or someone you’re with experience any of the following:
Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.
What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.
Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include:
- Moist, pale, or cool skin
- Headache or dizziness
- Muscle cramps
- Heavy perspiration
- Weak pulse
What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.
Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked. In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail. Signs and symptoms include:
- Altered level of consciousness
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Little or no perspiration
- Rapid pulse
What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.
Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:
- Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
- Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz if you’re exercising in warmer weather. Personally, I simply have water with me at all times and take a sip or two whenever I rest between sets or just stop for a breather.
- If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.
I leave you with two important tips:
- Always call 911 in an emergency.
- Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.
Go ahead! Soak up what’s left of the season by working out and hanging out in the great outdoors. Just remember to use a little extra care so you can stay safe while you move ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!