With summertime in full swing in the northern hemisphere, it’s essential to remain safe and healthy while enjoying some sunshine and outdoor activities. Although the heat and sunshine may seem like reasons to stay indoors, it’s important to know that there are some steps you can take while still getting outside and being active. Keep in mind that these steps don’t just apply to you – it’s important to know how to keep your friends and loved ones safe, too. Here’s what to know about heatwaves and how to safely enjoy your summer activities.
Unlike tornadoes, avalanches, earthquakes, and other natural occurrences, the thought of experiencing a heatwave confuses most people. In general terms, how do we define a “heatwave,” and more importantly, how serious can they be?
By definition, a heatwave is a prolonged period of elevated temperature relative to the local area. For example, a maintained temperature of 95°F in a climate that stays between 45°F and 75°F year-round would be considered a heatwave. Conversely, if a temperature of 95°F was maintained in the Arizona desert, it would not be considered a heatwave. Moreover, meteorologists define a heatwave as a period of excessive heat that lasts for longer than two days. While random bouts of heat and excessive moisture are common around the globe, it can lead to health problems when it persists for weeks and months. And when you compound the heat with damage to the local ecology, it can be a recipe for disaster.
The best way to remain safe during a heatwave is to stay in cool, shaded areas as much as possible, but that’s not always possible – and heatwaves don’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy activities outside. Here are some things to keep in mind.
First, hydration is the cornerstone of safety during a heatwave. If you’re feeling sluggish, clammy, euphoric, confused, or losing control of essential motor functions, it’s time to get water into your system and find a chilled environment to lower your body’s core temperature. If your body remains overheated for a prolonged period, you may experience rashes, heat exhaustion, fainting, and in some cases, a stroke.
If you think you or someone you love is experiencing the detrimental side effects of a heatwave, familiarize yourself with these symptoms:
- Excessive thirst
- Rapid breathing
- Erratic behavior
- Core temperature of 104°F (40°C)
Make sure to get yourself or your loved ones medical help as soon as possible if you notice these symptoms, since they can signal serious health problems as a result of heat exposure.
Even if it seems excessive, don’t spend time outside without being prepared. As a precaution, always bring ice packs, water, electrolyte-enriched drinks, sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and equipment that provides shade. And if your area is experiencing a heatwave, stay inside as much as possible. Even though you feel like you’re missing out on summertime fun, staying safe and healthy is the key to a well-lived life!
If you’re feeling the detrimental side effects of a heatwave and need medical assistance, our friendly staff of experts at Wellcare Urgent Care in Grand Rapids is ready to serve your needs. Our attention to detail and world-class medical solutions will help you feel motivated and energized amid a local heatwave!