Protecting Yourself and Others from Summer Heat-Related Concerns

Now that summer is upon is, it’s time to prepare for the onset of heat and all that comes with it – from general discomfort to genuine life-threatening emergencies. Knowing what to do is the key to a safe, happy, and comfortable summer. Here are some tips to keep your cool.

Activity and Exertion

Protective measures when it’s hot or humid include limiting exertion, drinking plenty of water, and asking your doctor about adjusting the dosage or timing of your medication before exercising. This is especially important for those taking psychotropic medications.

If you do exercise, do so indoors. If exercising outside, go early in the morning or after dusk when it’s cooler.

Medications

Drugs that increase heat sensitivity can interfere with sweating, increase the body’s heat generation, deplete its water or salt stores, or dull the sense of thirst.

Major tranquilizers may impair the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature.  During hot and humid weather individuals taking major tranquilizers are at increased risk of developing excessive body temperature.  Those with medical conditions are especially vulnerable, such as heart and pulmonary disease, diabetes and alcoholism, for example.

Be sure to store your medications properly. Medication left in excessive heat for extended periods of time is likely to experience a change in potency.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related condition, which is most likely to occur in people who are involved in physical activity outdoors during heat waves.

Heat Stroke is a more serious condition of dehydration and salt depletion which can be life threatening.

Summer Heat Precautions: Here’s How to Stay Safe

When there are period of high temperature and humidity, there are things everyone (and particularly, people at high risk) should do to lessen the chances of heat related illness:

  • Avoid overexertion, particularly during warmer periods of the day.
  • Apply sunscreen lotion as needed.
  • Keep windows shut, and draperies, shades, or blinds drawn during the heat of day.  Open windows in the evening or night hours when the air outside is cooler.
  • Move to cooler rooms during the heat of the day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress in loose fitting, light colored clothing.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight will help protect you from the effects of heat.
  • Eat a little more salt, unless your diet prohibits it.

If at any time you are feeling excessively weak or ill due to heat exposure, contact your physician, or in the case of emergency dial 911.

Thanks to NJ Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health Services (DMHS) for the information contained in this article, as well as CarePlus staff contributors.