Cool tips as summer heats up
With temperatures expected to reach near-record highs over the next few days — and plenty of outdoor activities on the docket around Ann Arbor — it’s important to practice heat safety to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Brad Uren, M.D., U-M’s assistant professor of emergency medicine, offers these cool tips to make sure you make the most of your summer:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Bring water. Buy water. Set a reminder on your smartphone to tell you to drink. Whatever you do, keep drinking the entire time you are outdoors. And stay away from alcohol, soda and other sugary or caffeinated beverages.
- Set a screen: Put sunscreen on exposed skin before you head outside to let it take effect. And keep applying sunscreen as you sweat. Also, be sure to wear a hat with a brim and cover up as much of your skin as you can handle.
- Stay aware: Many patients who head to the emergency room with heat-related illnesses often disregard early signs of trouble. If you experience nausea, headaches or dizziness, seek help. “It can sneak up on you,” Dr. Uren says. “You’re having a good time, walking around, heading to the next [art fair] booth and then you don’t feel so good.” Frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning and, of course, water, will help avoid illness.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help: The Ann Arbor art fair has medical teams roaming the grounds and plenty of first aid stations. There are also wheelchairs for use and trolleys or shuttles to help you get around and stay cool.
- Take care of those who need it: Older individuals, children and those with chronic conditions (such as asthma or heart issues) tend to be the most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Be vigilant to make sure everyone stays safe.
If left untreated, dehydration and heat exhaustion can result in heat stroke. Symptoms include rapid breathing, nausea, fainting and lack of sweating despite the heat.
If you work in valet, engineering or any other position that requires you to be outdoors in the heat, make sure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. If you or a fellow employee has any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
In the end, the absolute best way to treat heat-related illnesses is to prevent them in the first place. Stay safe, hydrate and enjoy the dog days of summer!