Summer is the chance to get outdoors, hit the beach to get in a tan, play some volleyball or frolic in the lake. But for the elderly and those with respiratory problems, the heat of summer is something to be avoided. While the children play outdoors, many fear to be outdoors among the ragweed and summer heat.
But summer doesn't have to take the fun out of life. If you have some physical problems that keep you from enjoying life outdoors, you need to be more aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and act before exhaustion leads to heat stroke and coma. You should be particularly watchful if you have high blood pressure, have heart disease or are diabetic. But once you know your condition, you can keep an eye out to insure that summer doesn't become a nightmare.
* Sweating is a natural process that helps the body stay cool. But if your sweating becomes profuse, you are losing a lot of water and need to keep hydrated or move indoors to a cooler area.
* Clammy, pale and cold skin is a sign that you need to get out from the sun.
* If your skin starts to burn, you've been out far too long. You may not always notice a sunburn until the burning starts, but you do need to protect yourself by using a good sunscreen. If you have fair skin that burns easily, stay more indoors than out.
* Fatigue and headaches are signs that the heat is affecting you. If you feel tired with little energy, you should move indoors and drink a good deal of water as likely you are already dehydrated. :
* Muscle Cramping: The muscles and the organs need water. Dehydration leads to cramping in muscle tissue. Drink water and add some salt to replace lost electrolytes that often lead to cramping.
* Blood Pressure: Staying out in the heat of the sun can lower blood pressure. While a level lower than the accepted 120 over 80 does not mean you'll faint from heat stroke immediately, an abnormally low blood pressure must be taken seriously. Those who have high blood pressure and diabetes should not stay outdoors too long. Moderation is the key.
* Dizziness and Disorientation: If you trip and find yourself stumbling around, you should immediately find a place in the shade where you can sit down until the dizzy spells wear off. Or ask for help to get inside and out of the sun. If you see someone who looks disoriented, don't assume that they have been drinking. Provide them with a glass of water and offer them assistance to get them indoors.
* Extreme thirst: If you are thirsty, you're already dehydrated. The first order of business is to drink water. Alcoholic beverages, colas and sweetened fruit juices will only make the condition worse. However, you need to know your specific health condition. Diabetics with low blood sugar will mimic the appearance of drunkenness, but what they need is to bring up their blood sugar by drinking a sweetened beverage.
* Vomiting and Nausea: If this happens, you need to act fast before heat stroke renders you unconscious. If food poisoning can be ruled out, the first order of business is to go somewhere where it is cooler.
Any of these signs indicate that action is needed. No matter where the event is taking place, whether at the beach or around the pot luck table, prevention is the safest method to avoid heat exhaustion. You should always have some water readily available. The shade of an umbrella or sitting under the shade of a tree will provide you with some protection against sunshine if you can't go indoors.
Knowing the state of your health and taking the right precautions will mean a joyful and healthy summer.