While many Floridians love the heat, summer temperatures and humidity can become very dangerous if you don't take the proper precautions. Just like wearing sunscreen to avoid damage from the sun, taking steps to avoid heat exhaustion is a smart way to enjoy Florida's summers outdoors.
The best way to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke is to stay cool and properly hydrated. Staying indoors in the air-conditioning is obvious they best way to do that, but with the proper precautions you can still be safe outside.
Tips for avoiding Heat Exhaustion:
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, preferably in lighter colors. Lighter colors absorb less heat than darker colors and help stay cooler, longer.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, SPF 15 or greater sunscreen, or using an umbrella will help protect you from direct sunlight.
- Drinking water and sports drinks to stay hydrated is important
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can both lead to dehydration
- Try to schedule most outdoor activities around the cooler times of the day, before 11 am or after 5 pm
- A car, even with the windows open, can become very hot quickly.
Common signs of heat exhaustion to look for:
- Excessive sweating
- Increased internal body temperature
- Rapid or weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Lightheadedness upon standing up or bending over
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Pale, cold skin, possibly damp
- Aggressive or irritable behavior
- Reddish, flushed face
- Shallow, rapid breathing
If you suspect that you or someone else may be suffering from heat exhaustion, use some of these very useful tips to prevent the condition from worsening:
- Move to a cooler place quickly, if air conditioning is unavailable move to a shaded area
- Remove any extra clothing such as jackets or over-shirts.
- Soak towels in (preferable cold) water and apply them to your skin.
- Take a cool bath or shower.
- Sip water or a sports drink.
- Lay down with legs and feet elevated.