Keep cool during the heat of summer

In this sweltering heat this week, the American Heart Association warns area residents to heed some simple safety suggestions as temperatures continue rise.

The key is to remember that whether you are swimming, biking, jogging or just taking a leisurely stroll, summer’s sweltering heat can leave you dehydrated, increasing the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, officials said.

The risk of dehydration increases when the humidity is above 70 percent and the temperature is greater than 70 degrees.

Heat and humidity interfere with the body’s natural cooling process. The heart is trying to deliver blood and oxygen to your working muscles at the same time your body is trying to cool off by sweating.

If you sweat too much, you lose important body fluids. The heart then has to pump even harder to get the smaller volume of blood distributed to your working muscles, skin and the other body parts. Extreme fluid loss can lead to brain and heart damage.

Here are some tips to keep physically active in the summer months:

– Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration. People who are active for periods longer than 30 minutes should drink six to eight ounces of water (about a cup) every 10 to 15 minutes. For low-calorie flavor, add slices of your favorite fruits such as melon, oranges, berries or even cucumber or mint to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for two hours.

– A good way to monitor your body fluid level is to weigh yourself every morning. If your weight is two or more pounds lower than usual in the morning, you may be dehydrated and need to drink more water before doing any vigorous physical activity. Remember, you may have lost weight as water, but not as fat.

– Protect your family from the sun: wear wide-brimmed hats, always apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

– Heat safety: avoid intense activities between noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest. Work out in the cooler part of the day such as early morning or late evening. If you’re exercising in the heat and begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, thirsty, or if you develop a headache, stop and find a cooler place to sit down and drink some water.

– Dress for the heat: wear lightweight, light colored clothing, choose light, breathable fabrics such as cotton, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion such as sweating; cold, clammy skin; dizziness; a rapid pulse; throbbing pressure in your head; chills; flushed appearance; and nausea.

Symptoms of heat stroke are warm, dry skin with no sweating or heavy sweating; cold, clammy skin; low blood pressure; confusion; and/or unconsciousness. High fever, a slow pulse and ashen or gray skin are other telltale signs.

The American Heart Association urges people to seek medical help if symptoms continue. Heat exhaustion can progress quickly to heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition.

Additionally, health experts also offer the following heat and humidity health tips:

These tips are especially important for the elderly, the very young and others with chronic health problems.

– Keep the air circulating.

– Stay out of the direct sun as much as possible.

– Keep outdoor activities to a minimum especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

– Wear weather appropriate clothing – lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made from a fabric that easily absorbs body perspiration is recommended.

– Drink plenty of fluids – especially water since excessive perspiration depletes large quantities of salt and fluid from the body.

– Take tepid baths – this will help reduce the body’s internal temperature and increase comfort.

– Check on elderly neighbors to make sure they are OK during hot summer days.

Energy Savings Tips

– Keep out the daytime sun with vertical louvers or awnings on the outside of your windows, or draw draperies, blinds and shades indoors.

– Do your cooking and use other heat-generating appliances in the early morning or late evening hours whenever possible.

– Open windows instead of using your air conditioner or electric fan on cooler days and during cooler hours.

– Be sure to keep windows and doors closed during the hottest hours of the day.

– Plant deciduous trees, shrubs and vines on south and west sides of the home to provide shade in the summer and sunshine in the winter.

– Keep the outside of air-conditioning units free from leaves and other debris that can clog vents.

– Keep cooling systems well tuned with periodic maintenance by service professionals.

– Close off unoccupied areas and shut air-conditioning vents; also, turn off the air conditioner when the area is not being used.