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Summer Survival Tips

If you are new to Houston, use air conditioning in homes and private vehicles. Houston temperatures in late summer can reach 100 degrees with high humidity levels. Without proper precautions, the summer heat can be deadly. Listed below are tips to beat the heat and heat-related illnesses.

Tips to beat the heat

  • Avoid physical exertion in hot humid weather
  • When performing physical activity in hot humid weather, do so gradually in small increments
  • Never leave children or pets in vehicles
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing that permits sweat evaporation. Sunglasses and hats are recommended
  • Drink plenty of liquids such as water, fruit and vegetable juice and iced tea to replace fluids lost by sweating. Avoid alcohol and fluids that contain salt
  • Try to stay in air conditioned places. If your house is not air conditioned, try visiting cool places during the day such as the malls, theaters and grocery stores
  • Outdoor tasks such as mowing the lawn or gardening should be done in the early morning and in the evening to avoid direct sunlight and high heat
  • Always carry a first-aid kit when traveling and keep information on heat-related illnesses and their treatments handy

Heat Cramps

The least serious of heat-related illnesses. Heat cramps generally appear after exercise or physical labor in hot weather.

Symptoms
Sweaty skin and occasional tingling in the arms and legs. The muscles of the legs and abdomen are usually affected first.

Treatment
Get out of the sun and into a cool place. Sit or lie down and drink cool fluids. Drink a half glass of salt water (one teaspoon of salt per 8 oz. glass) and repeat every 15 minutes for one hour.

Heat Exhaustion

The most common form of heat-related illnesses. Heat exhaustion generally occurs from a loss of body water and salt. This condition causes failure of the cardiovascular system.

Symptoms
Body temperature can range from a normal 98.6 degrees up to 104 degrees. The person will have pale, cold, and clammy skin, heavy sweating, headaches and/or cramps, and may experience nausea and vomiting. Individuals will look ashen-gray, their pupils will be dilated and they may faint. (Lowering the head will usually restore consciousness.

Treatment
Rest in a cool location and elevate feet eight to 12 inches. Loosen clothing. Apply cold, wet cloths all over the body. Restore the body water with salt water (one teaspoon of salt per 8 oz. glass). Drink half a glass of salt water every 15 minutes for a period of one hour. Stop fluids by mouth if vomiting or unconsciousness occurs. See a physician immediately. After heat exhaustion, avoid the heat for several days.

Heat Stroke

The most dangerous heat-induced illness requiring immediate medical care. Heat stroke is a response to heat characterized by extremely high body temperature and disturbance of the body's sweating mechanism.

Symptoms
A high body temperature (maybe 106 degrees or higher). Hot, dry skin, absence of sweating, rapid, strong pulse and unconsciousness.

Treatment
Immediately apply cool wet sponges. Be careful to avoid a chill when the temperature reaches below 102 degrees. Use cool (not cold) water or rubbing alcohol on the body. Do not drink coffee, tea, or alcoholic drinks. Dry off when the temperature has been reduced. If the temperature begins rising again, use cool towels to lower it. Transport the victim to the hospital at the same time as you try to cool him or her.

In any treatment for heat-related illnesses, salt tablets should be given with a doctor's approval.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center