Has anyone told you it’s hot outside? Ironic humor aside, when the temperatures rise, so do the risks of heatstroke and exhaustion, and after a week of biking around Alexandria and beyond in these temperatures, I think it’s a very important topic to discuss.
Our bodies are active and adaptive machines. Whenever we come into contact with a change in our environment, our body naturally begins to maintain our homeostasis. In the heat, our bodies react by sweating and breathing. These behaviors help to cool the skin and keep our core temperature level under control. However, when temperatures rise too quickly, do not decrease during the nighttime, or the humidity levels rise too high, our bodies find it hard to regulate.
We are susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke when we cannot regulate our body’s core temperature. While the two illnesses are related, they manifest in different ways. See our infographic below for a list of symptoms.
Heat exhaustion can be treated without seeking medical attention. Much like your iPhone, once heat exhaustion sets in, we recommend you go onto “low power mode”; rest, try to find a cooler area to relax, and drink lots of water. Do not attempt the ice bucket challenge or go from extreme heat to extreme cold, as the rapid-fire temperature change can shock the body causing more issues..
Heat exhaustion becomes heatstroke when the body can no longer cool itself. Sweat cools the body by evaporating off skin and leaving the area cool. Without sweat, the body’s outer temperature will rise, causing the core temperature to rise as well, impacting the central nervous system and circulatory system. One of the biggest indicators of impending heatstroke is muscle cramps.
If you or a loved one are suffering from heatstroke call 911 immediately. According to the National Weather Service, on average 130 people die in the United States each year from heatstroke. Elderly people and children are the most susceptible to heatstroke, and thus extreme caution must be taken when a heatwave occurs.
To combat these heat-related illnesses we suggest double checking your air conditioning and making sure it is in working order. Drink lots of water to replenish your body’s supply. Your body is not a closed circuit so when you perspire often you will lose water more quickly. Do not leave pets or children unattended in parked cars. Even with the windows down, cars heat up extremely quickly.
While this heatwave may be a sure sight better than the “Snowmaggedon” of February past, it’s still affecting us greatly. More than 20 children have died in cars these past few weeks and many people have been sent to the hospital with heatstroke. We urge our readers to protect themselves against heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Enjoy the outdoors, but enjoy them responsibly!
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