Summer in Colorado is tons of fun – there are so many great outdoor activities available to us here. However, it’s important to keep safety in mind while we play or work outside, to prevent heat-related illness. Keep these simple heat safety tips in mind while you enjoy the great Colorado outdoors this summer:
- Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout the day; don’t wait until you’re thirsty!
- Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as both cause your body to lose water more rapidly.
- Take regular breaks to cool down in the shade or indoors, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightly colored and lightweight clothing. You can even purchase UV protective clothing as an added defense against the skin damage caused by UV rays.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.
- If you’re enjoying the sun with friends or loved ones, remind the people around you to also hydrate and take breaks.
- If you’re going to exercise outdoors, try to do so in the early morning hours, before it begins to get truly hot.
- Take a cool shower or bath to cool down. Or, bring out your inner child and run through the sprinkler!
- Check your local weather forecast so you know what to expect.
In addition to these tips, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
Heat Rash occurs when the skin becomes irritated due to a build-up of sweat. Heat rash is relatively common in the hot summer months, and usually goes away after cooling down indoors. Make sure to keep the rash dry – if you find the rash irritating you can soothe it with baby powder.
Sweating causes your body to loose salts and fluids, which can lead to heat cramps. Heat cramps feel like muscle pain or spasms, and if you start to feel them you should go indoors, rest, and re-hydrate. You may want to drink an electrolyte drink to get back some of the salts your body has lost.
If the body gets too hot and loses too much water and salt, it’s possible to get heat exhaustion. Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Cool, pale, and clammy skin
- Heavy sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness or fatigue
- Muscle cramps
- Rapid pulse
If you notice these symptoms, immediately stop what you are doing and move to a cool area. Lie down, drink lots of water, and apply cold compresses or ice packs if you have them. If the symptoms do not go away or if they get worse, call 9-1-1 or have someone take you to the Emergency Room.
Heat stroke happens when your body temperature rises quickly, and you’re unable to cool down. Signs of heat stroke include:
- High body temperature of 103
F or higher
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- Racing pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid, sometimes shallow breathing
- Confusion and/or agitation
- Slurred speech
If you suspect that you or someone else has heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Untreated heat stroke can cause damage to your internal organs or even lead to death.
While you wait for an ambulance, try to cool the person down – you can put them in a cool bath, or shower or place ice packs or wet towels against their neck, armpits, and groin. If the person is not vomiting, give them some cool water to rehydrate, but do not give them ice cold water or sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. Do not give them anything to drink if they are vomiting or unconscious.
We want you to enjoy the summer – without heat-related illness or injury. Keep these tips in mind, and stay safe in the summer heat!