Published 10:08 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

While the beginning of school is just a couple of weeks away, the summer season isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This week is expected to be a hot one, with temperatures in the 90s.

Children will still be outside playing, people will be outside gardening and pools will be flooded with people trying to make the most of the remainder of this time of year.

Some reminders of how to stay safe might be just what they need.

Email newsletter signup

Heat exhaustion can happen to anyone, but there are some people who are more likely to be affected by it. Jen House, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health, said people who are 65 years and older and children up to 4 years of age as well as overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk.

People who do any kind of physical exertion, whether through exercising or working, also need to be especially cautious.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion House said to look for include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headaches, nausea and fainting. She said these symptoms can come on rather quickly.

If a person experiences any of these symptoms, House said there are a few things that can help.

“We would certainly advise everybody if they’re outside ever and they start to feel overheated or their body is feeling overloaded and lots of sweating, seek shade immediately, get out of the sun, and drink water,” House said. “If there is an air-conditioned area where people can go, do that.”

She also advises avoiding alcoholic beverages and drinks that contain caffeine.

“Alcohol and caffeine can add to an individual’s dehydration, which can increase negative effects of heat illness,” House said.

If people experience some symptoms and move to the shade or air conditioning and drink water, but still don’t feel right, House said they should contact their doctor.

“If people are extremely nauseous or become unconscious or become confused, seek immediate medical assistance,” House said. “In the meantime, spray individuals with water and try to get them into the coolest place possible.”

She advised people to plan on doing any outdoor activities in the early morning or late evening when the sun is less direct and suggested wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothing.

In an effort to keep people protected from the sun’s rays, Terri Frances, community manager for the Cabell unit of the American Cancer Society, summed it up with an easy-to-remember phrase, “Slip, slop, slap and wrap.” She said this means to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on sunglasses.

Staying covered up and in the shade, and staying well-hydrated can help the summer’s dangers be minimized without minimizing the summer fun.