Beat the Heat

Beat the Heat

Keep your cool during the hot summer months.


The summer heat wave is in full effect in Alabama, reaching record-high temperatures in many areas throughout the state. “We see virtually no let up in the hot weather for at least seven more days,” says J.B. Elliot, weather forecaster at ABC 33/40. “There is a little bit of good news. We believe the high temperatures will stay in the mid and upper 90s instead of over 100 on so many days.”


The combination of heat and high humidity puts you at risk of many heat-related illnesses, some proving to be fatal. There are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family when the thermometer hits the triple-digits.


Dehydration is the starting point for many heat-related illnesses. Did you know that by the moment you are thirsty, dehydration has already begun? Experts say do not wait until you feel thirst to drink plenty of fluids. Eight 6-8 oz. glasses of water per day are the recommended amount to keep your body hydrated, but more than that is suggested if you are participating in outdoor or physical activities.


Heat-related illnesses have broad levels of severity. They can range from a few minor heat cramps to severe heat exhaustion or even heat strokes. Symptoms of heat cramps include intermittent, involuntary muscle spasms and profuse sweating. If you believe you are experiencing heat cramps, drink plenty of water or electrolyte-containing beverages.


Heat cramps can also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. These can develop several days after heat exposure or an unbalanced replacement of fluids, according to Symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness and nausea/vomiting. If you are experiencing heat exhaustion, doctors advise that you stop strenuous activity immediately, drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages and rest.


Untreated heat exhaustion can lead to a heat stroke, which is far more serious. Heat strokes are a type of hyperthermia where the body temperature is dramatically elevated, and can be fatal. Symptoms include high body temperatures temp (above 103°), red, hot and dry skin, and dizziness or nausea. If you are experiencing a heat stroke, immediately seek a cooler, shaded area and relieve your body by spraying with cool water. You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible.


Some simple tips are to remember to stay hydrated, engage in outdoor, physical activities during cooler times of the day (earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon) and pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel fatigued, rest in a shaded area. Cool yourself by drinking water or taking a cool bath or shower. Loose-fitting clothing is best for allowing sweat to evaporate and cool your body.


By Sloane Hudson

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