If the air temperature reads 85 degrees F, but there’s zero humidity, it will actually feel like it’s 78 degrees F, whereas the same air temperature in an environment with 80 percent humidity will feel like 97 degrees F.
High environmental temperatures can be dangerous to the human body. In the range of 90 to 105 degrees F, heat cramps and exhaustion may occur. Between 105 and 130 degrees F, heat exhaustion is almost certain, and activities should be significantly limited. An environmental temperature over 130 degrees F is likely to lead to heatstroke.
Heat-related illnesses include:
- Heat exhaustion
- Muscle cramps
- Heat swelling
- Stay well hydrated. Thirst is often not be an adequate indicator of how much water you need to drink, particularly when you are tired and during exertion. Be sure to keep up with your fluid losses by drinking enough so that you have to urinate often. If your urine is dark in color, then you are likely dehydrated, so keep drinking. You want your urine to be light-colored. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, supplement water with an electrolyte-containing beverage, such as Gatorade. If the beverages you drink are a bit cool, they may be more palatable.
- Curtail heavy exercise when it is hot, and particularly when it is humid. Above 75% humidity, you will have difficulty evaporating sweat, so your natural cooling mechanism is impeded.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat in the sun. Better yet, stay out of the sun.
- When you feel hot, immediately seek a cooler location.
- Don’t bundle yourself in hot clothing in the heat. Don’t try to lose water weight as part of any weight loss program.
- Avoid alcohol and other beverages (such as tea and coffee) that act as diuretics.
- If you are supervising children, athletes, or laborers in the heat, pay close attention to their behaviors. Anyone who seems overly tired, confused, or inappropriate may be on the verge of serious heat illness. Get them to a cool location, have them shed articles of clothing, and begin to lower their body temperature.
- The second leading cause of death, after head injuries, in athletes is heat stroke. It is cruel and unnecessary, and particularly dangerous, to withhold water from athletes during practice and games. Furthermore, they are at great risk for overheating when exercising while wearing occlusive uniforms, hats, and helmets. Provide frequent water breaks and rest periods for all athletes.
- Observe elders closely, particularly those who reside in dwellings without air conditioning.
- Never leave a child or pet unattended in an automobile in the heat. The internal temperature of a car in the sunlight can rapidly rise to the point that the passengers are overwhelmed.
- Be particularly vigilant if you are taking medications that affect your body’s ability to control its temperature. Have your pharmacist review all of your medications in order to let you know whether you are particularly vulnerable to the heat.
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