SOUTHEAST NORTH CAROLINA — Extreme heat can take a toll on your body. As the National Weather Service points out on its website, intense activity or prolonged exposure to heat can cause serious, sometimes fatal heat-related illnesses.
It is especially dangerous for the young and old and for pets. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors. Monitor them throughout the day for signs of a heat-related illness.
The NWS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued several tips to follow during periods of extreme heat:
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Drink plenty of water (not very cold) or other, non-sugary, decaffeinated and non-alcoholic fluids, regardless of activity levels.
- Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
- Keep Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.
- Check with your doctor if:
- You are on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, ask your doctor how much fluids are safe to drink.
- If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.
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On the move
- Slow down: reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day.
- Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
- Avoid hot and heavy meals. They add heat to your body. Instead, eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads.
- If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don’t leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
- Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Do not leave children or pets in a car, even for a minute or with the windows cracked. Temperatures inside a car can rise quickly, even on days where the outside temperature is 70 degrees. The NWS says dozens of children and pets die each year from hyperthermia after being left in a car.
- Check belt buckles and car seats before placing your child in the car. They could get burnt from heated metal buckles.
- Be good neighbor: Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat.
- Don’t leave valuable electronic equipment, such as cell phones and GPS units, sitting in hot cars.
- Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations, such as malls and libraries.
- Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
- Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry, blowing air can dehydrate you faster.
- Take a cool bath or shower.
- Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
- Make sure rooms are well vented if you are using volatile chemicals.