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Coping with summer heat
Health advice
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There are many things great about living on the coast during the summer, but the heat is not one of them.
Last week I watched as two grown men stood in a 5 p.m. rain with their faces tilted up so they got a steady drenching of rainwater.  They looked like two dried out ducks being revived by the rain and I was really tempted to join them. I knew that feeling!
No matter our age, or how physically fit we are, we must all take the heat and humidity into consideration before we plan outside work or exercise. Our bodies dissipate heat by the rate and depth of blood circulation, by losing water through the skin and sweat glands, and as a last resort when our blood is heated above 98.6°F, by panting. We might not be as loud or obvious but humans "pant" just like dogs when they get too hot. Sweating cools the body through evaporation but high humidity can retard evaporation.
Every year, approximately 235 Americans succumb to heat. And it's not just the elderly and ill who have problems. Heat also kills healthy young people who don't recognize the dangers of exercising in hot, humid weather. Extreme heat can be dangerous without the additional stress of exercise. Our body has to work harder to stay cool even when we're resting in hot weather.
High humidity on a hot day means sweat doesn't evaporate well because the air is already saturated with moisture so while our body loses fluids, it isn't necessarily cooling down.
Our body is a wonderful machine and can get rid of excess heat by sending extra blood to the surface of the skin to cool it.  But when this happens, it means less blood is reaching your brain, organs and muscles causing you to feel weak, light headed and even confused.  And if your body can't cool itself, the body's internal temperature will spike and you'll become ill. If you've ever experienced heat exhaustion, you know how unpleasant these symptoms can be even if they are short term.  Heat stroke -- the most serious of the heat related illnesses -- can cause permanent damage or death if it's not treated immediately.
If you do exercise outside in this weather:
1. Do so early, before 8 a.m., or late, after 8 p.m.
2. Avoid overdoing it and take breaks in shade often.
3. Listen to the weather reports - watch for the heat index, advisories and the UV index. The HI is the temperature the body feels when heat and humidity are combined. Weather programs use it to measure how stressful the heat will be.
4. Avoid urban areas, seek shade and take frequent breaks.
5. Dress in lightweight, loose clothes and a wide brimmed hat.  Wear sunglasses and choose waterproof sunscreen that won't wash off when you sweat.
6. Pay attention to your fluid intake when you exercise. Drink 8-12 oz. of water 20 to 30 minutes before you exercise and 6-10 oz. after every 20-30 minutes of exercise and again after you're finished. Drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty.
7.  Slow down and cool off if you start feeling fatigued, have a headache, a high pulse rate, shallow breathing or just "don't feel right".

Other tips to remember when the weather is extremely hot:

* NEVER LEAVE A CHILD OR PET UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. There have already been sixteen deaths of infants and children this year because they were left inside a hot vehicle.  Most people don't realize that the temperature in a car can go over 114 degrees in less than 30 minutes even when the temperature outside the car is only 80 degrees. A body temperature of 107 degrees F is considered lethal causing damage to cells and internal organs to shut down.  Thermoregulatory systems of children are not as efficient as an adult's and their bodies warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult's.
* Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
* Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available or spend the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries,  shopping malls and other community facilities..
* Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
* People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; who are on fluid-restricted diets; or who have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
* Limit the intake of alcoholic beverages.
* Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
* Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day, use a buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
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