We’ve been enjoying unseasonably cool weather here in Southern California this spring, but soon enough the scorching temperatures will be back. And unfortunately, high temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses. Below are some types of heat sicknesses to be on the lookout for, and some tips for keeping cool when the weather is not.
What Causes Heat-Related Illnesses?
When it’s hot outside— especially when it’s hot and humid—and your body is not able to cool down effectively, you may suffer from some kind of heat-related sickness. Your body will normally cool down through sweating, but if you heat up faster than your body can cool itself down, you may start to:
- Feel confused, irritable, or dizzy
- Develop a headache
- Experience nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, heart problems, muscle cramping, blisters, problems with your eyesight, and more.
If you’re exercising or playing in the heat, the outside temperature will raise your body’s core temperature. Heat-related illnesses may be made worse by your body circulating more blood to try to help you cool down, increasing your heart rate and stressing your body, and raising your temperature even more.
Some Heat-Related Illnesses
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat stroke
- Heat rash
- Heat cramps
These illnesses may be made worse if you are:
- Not drinking enough water
- On certain medications
- Suffering from heart disease or poor circulation
- Already have a sunburn
- Drinking alcohol
Will I Get Sick?
Those at highest risk of heat-related illnesses are:
- People 65 and over
- Children under the age of two
- People with chronic disorders (heart disease, high blood pressure, taking certain medications)
Even if you’re young and healthy, you can still get overheated! Everyone needs to be careful in extreme heat conditions and take measures to help your body stay cool.
Heat-related sicknesses can often be prevented by taking some simple steps. For instance, when you’re at home:
- Stay indoors, in air conditioning, as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, try to spend as many of the high-heat hours as you can in cool locations like malls, museums, libraries, and other places with air conditioning that are open to the public.
- Drink as much water as you can – don’t wait until you’re thirsty!
- Take cool baths or showers to cool down.
- Check on friends and neighbors—and ask them to check on you.
- Avoid the stove or oven—it will just make your home hotter.
- Skip hot and heavy meals that will leave you even more uncomfortable. Try a light yet hearty salad or something that doesn’t require the stove.
- Avoid sugary and alcoholic drinks that cause dehydration.
- Check your local news for weather updates, more safety tips, and to find out about more cool locations open to the public.
If You Need to Go Outside
- Limit your time spent doing outdoor activities, especially strenuous ones during the hottest hours of the day
- Apply and reapply broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen as directed.
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing.
And a Few Other Things to Remember
- While fans may help some with cooling down you or your home, they won’t prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Never, EVER leave children or pets in a hot car.
- Keep your pets well hydrated—just like us, they can get easily overheated and suffer from the heat-related sickness.
Protect yourself, your family, and your friends from preventable heat-related illnesses. To talk with a nurse about a possible heat-related illness, call the nurse advice line that matches your insurance plan and type of coverage, or call us at (888) 499-9303.