The sun`s rays can be damaging, both in terms of skin damage and rising body temperature. Heat strokes and heat exhaustion can affect people of all ages but those at the greatest risk for heat-related illnesses include the homebound elderly - especially those without air conditioning or fans, people whose jobs keep them outdoors, people who take certain drugs (e.g., some tranquillisers or antidepressants), infants, those who are overweight and the chronically ill.
What is a heat stroke?
Actually, a heat stroke is no joking matter. When the body cannot cool itself or is overwhelmed by the heat, symptoms may progress rapidly and, if not properly treated at once, advance to a potentially life-threatening condition.
Under normal circumstances, a person`s body temperature is kept under control by perspiration and evaporation on the skin. When this system breaks down or is overwhelmed, a wide range of symptoms can occur, starting with heat cramps. Athletes training in summer months often experience episodes of cramping if they sweat profusely, or don`t take in enough fluids and salt.
Preventing heat strokes
Prompt response is mandatory to prevent heat stroke. The important thing is to bring down the body temperature as fast as possible. Get the person to a cool area at once, lay them down after loosening their clothing, apply a cool cloth to their face, neck and wrists, and elevate their legs. Have them drink cool (not cold) water or an electrolyte-containing beverage, and watch them carefully. They should begin to feel better with their temperature coming down within half an hour.
Precautions to exercise
Listen to your body. Slow down when it`s hot, and avoid getting too much sun.
Dress appropriately and stay indoors when you can.
If your car has been sitting in the sun, try opening the doors, turning on the ignition and air conditioning, and waiting for a few minutes before you get in.
Plan to avoid any strenuous activities during midday.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Avoid drinking too much of tea or coffee. It can lead to dehydration.
When it comes to avoiding heat-related illnesses, the best defence really is a good offence ...and your own common sense.