It’s getting hot out here. On July 19, temperatures in the UK hit an all-time high of 104.4 F. Officials issued the first-ever red warning for extreme heat in England. And temps reached dangerous highs in Spain and France, fueling wildfires. In the US, more than 100 million people have been impacted by high temps. All of which has scientists pointing fingers at climate changeNow, environmental experts are ringing the alarm about heat-related illnesses. Because this hot weather can be deadly. Especially for low-income families, people of color, and the elderly. And with the World Meteorological Org calling heat waves the “new normal,” knowing what to look out for and how to stay cool are a must.
Common heat-related illnesses to look out forSunburns happen when the body is exposed to UV radiation (think: from the sun or artificial light like tanning beds) for too long without protection. Chances are you’ve experienced this before. But reminder that your skin will turn red, burn, and be painful to touch. For relief…
- Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals
- Put a chilled cloth or lotion on the area
- Use broad spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF next time you go out, and apply every two hours — or more if you’re swimming and sweating
- Put some baby powder on the affected area (avoid lotion)
- Keep the area dry
- Drink water and have a snack every 15 to 20 minutes
- Avoid salt
- Call a medical professional if you have a heart problem, are on a low-sodium diet, or if the cramps don’t go away after an hour
- Take off any extra layers (like socks, shoes, and hats)
- Use a cold compress on your body
- Drink cold water
- Go to the emergency room
- Call 911
- Move the person to a shaded, cool area
- Encourage them to remove layers of clothing
- Cool the person with cold water or air circulation (like a fan or air conditioning)
Tips on how to stay safe and cool this summerGiven how much harm prolonged heat exposure can cause, it may not be a bad idea to lay low when temps get high. Here are some ways you can cool off:
- Avoid high impact outdoor activities like running or sports. Or try to plan and do them when temperatures are lower — like early in the morning or at night.
- Take advantage of air-conditioning as much as you can. If you don’t have AC, then crank up the fans, grab an ice pack, or take a cold shower.
- Fill up that water bottle. Hydration is key to avoiding heat-related illnesses. While it may be tempting to grab that frozen marg, make sure you have water along with it.
- Don’t forget your pets. Make sure they have plenty of water and a cool place to rest throughout the day.
- Wear sunscreen. Even if it doesn’t seem that hot outside, sunscreen is critical to avoiding sunburns and skin cancer.