That hot summer weather is coming a bit early this year! Starting in June, temperatures in South Carolina will hit nearly 100 degrees. It’s a perfect opportunity to go swimming, eat popsicles or hang out somewhere with air conditioning. However, there are also a number of risks to be aware of when temperatures rise.
The National Weather Service states that heat cramps—painful muscle cramps and spasms, usually in legs and abdomen—may be the first sign of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; fast and weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. If you or someone you know has been exposed to the heat for a prolonged period of time, the individual should move to a cooler location, lie down and loosen his or her clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to as much of his or her body as possible. If vomiting continues, the person should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature (above 103°F, rectal temperature is the most accurate); hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse and possible unconsciousness. In the event of heat stroke, 911 should be called immediately, as it is a medical emergency. The person should be moved to a cooler environment. You may attempt to reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or a bath, but the person should NOT be given fluids as it could lead to pulmonary edema, or water in the lungs. Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests placing an ice pack on the groin and armpit areas of a person with heat stroke.
Remember to stay hydrated and take breaks in cool environments periodically. Sunscreen is important in helping to prevent skin cancer, as well as heat-related illnesses. Be sure to frequently check in on children, the elderly and pets as they are some of the most susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Also keep in mind that, while the temperature outside may seem mild, temperatures can increase substantially within a matter of minutes inside a car.
Taking the necessary precautions can help everyone to have a fun and safe summer!