By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross
This is my favorite time of the year! I sun-kiss the skin of each person who spends time outside and burn those into a crisp who don’t wear any sunscreen. I tend to be more dangerous than any other weather event throughout the year and regrettably affect the elderly and young children the most, often resulting in death.
I can make you feel sticky within minutes in Austin, Texas, or make you feel like a chocolate chip cookie being baked in an oven in Dallas. I especially like to cause embarrassing pit stains in pools underneath your arms… Sorry, not sorry.
If it weren’t for me, many of you probably wouldn’t consider cold showers or installing a pool, but without me you wouldn’t be able to enjoy those summer barbecues near the beaches and lakes. I am harsher in the southern hemisphere because the tea is sweeter, and c’mon, the south is better!
Have you guessed what I might be yet?
Trees try to discourage me, but vehicles can’t hide from me. The Red Cross spends a lot of effort trying to protect residents from my reach, however not everyone listens. I’m a nasty pain in the summer, but I can’t help it, I am the summer heat.
During my peak periods, I can make the temperature stay in the 90’s for consecutive days on end. It’s imperative to your health to stay weather aware as I like to change my mood daily. I’m feeling extra cheery this morning and will you give some tips on how we can stay friends and not enemies over the next few months.
If you plan on spending the day outside, make sure you have plenty of water on hand. Water is cheap y’all and essential to your fight against me. You should also wear plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin because I like to punish the ones who don’t. It’s not cute to look like a walking lobster, am I right?
Dress in light colored clothing that is loose fitting and lightweight. I am attracted to dark clothing, I like it when it’s tall, dark and handsome. I turn up the heat to make sure you know my presence, so stick to light and airy materials.
Slow down on strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. I’m not as angry after 7 p.m. and still too tired between 4-7 a.m. to burn you. If you have to be outside because your job requires you to see me, wear a hat and stay hydrated. You need to replenish what you lose in sweat!
Common Heat Sickness Symptoms:
- Feeling nauseous
- Flushed and/or pale skin
- Heavy sweating
- Severe headaches
If I’ve caused you to have any of these symptoms (sorry in advance!) go to a cooler area in the shade or in an air-conditioned building. Administer cool cloths directly on to your skin and drink cool water slowly, approximately one glass every 15 minutes. Loosen any restricting clothing and try to relax. If symptoms continue to worsen call 9-1-1 immediately!
Nothing makes me sadder than when individuals leave children or pets unattended in vehicles, even if it’s for a few minutes. Don’t do it, please! The inside of a vehicle heats up quickly and rapidly becomes a death trap for anyone left inside.
Heat Related Terms You Should Know:
- Heat Cramps are muscle tremors and pains that can affect the calves, abdomen, back and arms. It’s an early sign your body is having trouble with the hot temperatures. They are painful spasms that need to be treated if cramps continue well after an hour.
- Heat Exhaustion is when the blood travels to your skin cells and not through your vital organs. This can cause your brain to go into mild shock if left untreated. This occurs in victims who frequently work outside for their job or exercise outdoors. Profuse sweating results in fluid loss, so always carry extra water to replenish!
- Heat Stroke occurs when the body’s natural temperature control system fails and sweating won’t help cool the body down. This is life threatening and must be treated immediately! Please call 9-1-1 for immediate attention!
Common Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
- Hot, red and dry skin
- Loss of conciseness
- A rapid or weakened pulse
- Shallow breathing
I have given you all that you need to know, so don’t ignore it! I might not be this nice again. Summer is for enjoying fun and friends, don’t let me ruin it! I just get too excited sometimes when I see you all enjoying my rays!