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What can be done to prevent heat stress?

Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, Injury Prevention Coordinator at Tufts Medical Center’s Trauma Center shares some useful tips on staying safe in the heat! 

What are some ways to stay safe in the heat?

  • Hydration with water is the most important way to avoid heat stress
  • Drink more than your usual amount of water during hot weather and drink even more before and after doing any extraneous activities 
  • Carry a full bottle of water with you everywhere you go. Drink frequently. Fill the bottle immediately when you can.  
  • Wear a hat and put on light and loose clothes during hot conditions 
  • If you take medications, find out from your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any medication that can put you at risk for dehydration.
  • Minimize your exposure to hot conditions -- The hottest time of the day is usually between 3pm and 4:30pm. 
  • Use sunscreen with SPF of 30 or greater 
  • Stay in the shade or create your own shade by using an umbrella 
  • Use air conditioning when possible. If you don’t have any air conditioning system in your home, plan on spending the day indoors where there is air condition such as the library, community centers, shopping malls, bookstores, movies, or a friend or family’s house. 
  • Listen to the weatherman to determine the optimum day and time to go outdoors for the week, plan accordingly
  • Carry a portable small battery operated fan 

What should I avoid in the heat?

Avoid caffeine (soda, tea, and coffee) and alcohol as they tend to dehydrate the body. If you take medications, find out from your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any medication that can put you at risk of dehydration. If possible, cancel or reschedule any activities that will expose you to extreme heat. 

How can I tell if the heat is starting to negatively affect me? 

Look for the 3 “U’s” -- Unsteady, Urine, and Uncomfortable. 

  • Unsteady – Feeling weak, unsteady, and/or dizzy
  • Urine - Monitor urine color. Urine color should be light not dark. Dark urine indicates dehydration.
  • Uncomfortable- muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache

What are some fun but safe ways to stay safe in hot temperatures?

Walk by someone’s sprinklers, go to a public pool or beach, or carry around a small spray bottle filled with water.

What is one tip to remember in hot temperatures?

Besides hydrate with water before going outdoors, NEVER leave anyone, including pets, in the car, even if the window is slightly opened. To avoid any children from playing and getting locked in a parked vehicle, always keep vehicles locked at all times. Be thoughtful and routinely check in on your elderly family, friends, and neighbors to make sure they are ok during extreme weather.

…and a bonus fun fact! Ever wonder why people put a cool wet face cloth over a sick or hot person’s forehead? 

That’s because they are trying to cool the person’s temperature down by activating the pulse areas around the temples. These pulse points are your body’s “cooling spots.” Pulse points such as your wrists, neck, groin, temples, and arm pits are the perfect areas to apply a cool wet cloth to help with fevers and heat stress. Cold applied to these pulse points results in a cooler body temperature. Other “cooling spots” are behind the knees, inside of your elbows, top of the feet, and inside part of the ankles. Knowing your body’s “cooling spots” will help you bring down our overly heated body, whether it’s from a fever or from extreme heat.