Beat the Heat…Safely

It’s been HOT in Nova Scotia, especially here in the Annapolis Valley. Temperatures have gone into the 90’s on some days and the humidity has been almost as high. Ugh.

Our new flooring has been installed and we’ve been trying to move everything back into place, purging and cleaning as we go. The heat makes work like that completely miserable. I actually experienced some slight heat exhaustion and dehydration this weekend, it’s been just that warm.

I had planned an excursion to my uncle’s gardens this weekend, and we didn’t even do that. I’m sure I’ve missed any photo ops for his lovely poppies, but I imagine there will be a steady profusion of blooms over the next weeks.

So, while I have no garden photos to share from this weekend, I will toss out a few reminders to everyone about taking care of yourself during these lovely but hot summer days. As a Paramedic, I transported many patients to hospital with heat-related problems, some of them quite sick.

1. Drink lots of cool water. Stay hydrated — by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

2. Wear a hat and light-colored clothing when working in the sun.

3. Know the signs of heat exhaustion which is a form of shock: pale skin, cool and moist to the touch, possibly with profuse sweating; dizziness; nausea and possibly vomiting; muscle weakness; fatigue; headache; muscle cramping; possibly fainting.

4. If you feel any combination of these symptoms while working in a hot environment, stop what you’re doing, get out of the sun, remove warm clothing, sponge off with cool water, drink small sips of water or a sports drink, never anything alcoholic. Rest until you feel better.

Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke which is a true medical emergency.

5. The symptoms of heat stroke are different from heat exhaustion with one very important distinction — the skin is hot and dry to touch…the patient may radiate heat from their body. There may be a rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, agitation, confusion, seizure and possibly coma. These symptoms may come on rather suddenly.

Again, this is a medical emergency and the person should seek medical attention immediately. Do not delay! While waiting for medical assistance to arrive, remove clothing and cool the body by whatever means possible. It is critical that body temperature be brought down as quickly as possible to prevent damage to the brain and other organs — drape with wet sheets, place ice packs or bundles of ice cubes around head, under arms, on the groin. Fan the patient. Keep them at rest.

Fortunately, these heat related conditions can be avoided, as can sunburn, with a little common sense.

6. Use a sunblock when planning to be in the sun for an extended period of time. Use a high enough SPF# for your skin type.

Should you or a family member sustain a burn, treat it as you would any other burn. For a general reddening of the skin, cool the burn with a cold wash cloth or small towel…this will provide as much relief as most commercial sunburn preparations.

Should your sunburn blister, you’ve got a second degree burn and it should be treated as such. DO NOT break blisters. Cool the area as outlined above and cover with a dry dressing or soft, clean t-shirt. All blistered burns should be seen by a physician who may or may not drain the blisters and may or may not prescribe an antibiotic ointment to ward off infection. Much depends on the size and location of the burn.

A little common sense goes a long way. :) Don’t let the heat get the best of you (says she who doesn’t heed her own advice!) and enjoy this wonderful season safely. Drink up!

(photo source)

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23 thoughts on “Beat the Heat…Safely

  1. Nancy, timely reminders. Thank you. I have been close to hat exhaustion a couple of times this year already. I promise to watch myself and others more carefully. Don’t work too hard!

  2. Very good advice! During my atlantic salmon fishing trip last week I got heat exhaustion. I thought I was drinking enough water, but I forgot to wear a hat and sunprotection = Skinless nose this week – LOL. But one very nice Silver Atlantic Salmon landed.

  3. Beckie and Niels, thanks for your visit. Heat exhaustion can sneak up on you without you being aware of it — when in doubt, get out of the sun and drink. :) Kudos, Niels, on the great catch!! I can smell that one on the BBQ.

  4. I am such a weenie Nancy. I don’t get out much if it is so hot. I guess being so far north you don’t have Air Conditioning. Our lives would be miserable if we didn’t have AC. Take care.

  5. Thank Nancy for this post…I haven’t been drinking as much water as one ought to and this is a good reminder of the need to keep hydrated.

  6. Hi Lisa – we do have an AC unit…I detest the heat and couldn’t survive here without it. We just haven’t got it installed yet because of the work that was being done in the apt. :)

    It’s not unusual to see 100 degree temps here in the Valley, and high 80’s – low 90’s seems to be the norm so far this summer. Couple that with uncharacteristically high humidity and it spells misery. Hopefully our AC will be up and running this evening.

    Drink up, Gail. :)

  7. Excellent advice Nancy – someone went down with heatstroke on a dive boat I was diving off of once in Egypt – very, very scary when it happened; thankfully prompt treatment sorted them out quickly enough but I’ve been careful about hydration ever since.

  8. Nancy, How have you been? Good I hope. This is a very helpful post for folks. Sorry to see it is hot up there! Summer will pass all to quickly.

  9. Good reminders for this time of year, Nancy. I avoid being out in the hot sun this time of year if at all possible; the heat and I don’t mix well at all.
    I had no idea it got that warm in Nova Scotia; hope your A/C unit gets working soon.

  10. Thanks for doing us all a service with this reminder. I know these hot days can lead to discomfort or serious conditions.

    Everyone should keep an eye on pets as well and provide lots of water.

  11. It’s great you posted this important tip. I find myself forgetting until I sense that my body is not feeling good, and then I remember to stop and drink.

  12. Thanks for the reminders, Nancy. Whenever I get a little too much sun (easy to do even when it’s cloudy outside), I use a little lavender essential oil on the affected area after a cool shower. It soothes the heat and somehow keeps my skin from peeling.

  13. Great advice Nancy! We had very hot days last week and stayed indoors during the peak sun hours, but it was miserable!

  14. We were traveling on vacation in your area two weeks ago. Looks like we had good timing as the weather was still cool and pleasant. It was a nice break from the Florida summer. Absolutely beautiful area!

  15. Very timely comments, Nancy, and good advice. As a veteran of many 90-100-plus days myself (and also of heat exhaustion) I can add a few more tips:

    Don’t work outside midday

    Make sure your electrolytes are in balance– I use Emergen-C, a fizzy vitamin drink that comes in packets, so you can carry it around. Really makes a difference when you put it in water. Coconut water also has natural electrolytes in it, and it’s refreshing, too.

    Don’t push on regardless! (one of the hardest ones).

    And for anyone who’s interested–the lavender oil works because it has a property that regenerates skin cells. It’s famous for being good for burns (not just sunburns).

  16. Great tips and thanks, Nancy! This past weekend I took it real easy. Lots of rest in between pulling weeds. A freeze pop works wonders, too!

  17. When it gets hot I worry about our little green friends in the garden–Sometimes I forget to consider that they might need a little extra hydration themselves. I lost a precious new plant in April when the days turned wickedly hot the day after it went in the ground. Extra shade, extra water–nothing seemed to help it. Fortunately, for everything that’s sensitive to the heat, there seems to be something else that rejoices at its arrival. Hopefully you have a few of those in your garden yourself as the summer gets going in earnest. Stay cool!

  18. Today, it’s going to get mid-90s with heat index of 107, which is hot. Fred got our A/C working. Until now, we’ve been using a window unit and some fans. This is a great post. So many people ignore the heat. I know there are probably many old people without A/C in Memphis and surrounding area, and they are going to suffer. I hate knowing that.

  19. I actually had heat stroke in Mexico. What happened is that I was carrying a very large bottle of water, bigger than the water cooler size in the afternoon in the heat on a steep path(our water went out in the hut we were staying in. It was when I STOPPED sweating that I knew I was in big trouble. My face and body became beat red and dry. It was hard to breath and even think. I managed to get the water home and in a bucket where I doused myself. I placed a wet towel over my head and feet in a bucket of water. I slowly sipped water.I recovered!
    Great advice, Nancy and a timely reminder!
    Best,
    Philip

  20. Thanks for the timely reminder…

    even those of us who live in hot, humid summer places need reminding of being watchful about heat-related problems — sometimes, what I notice is that with prevalent A/C, folks don’t acclimate to the heat very much anymore (at least not like those of us that are outside a lot), and are even more unused to the heat. And the humidity makes it really oppressive.

    Hope your heat wave is short!

  21. Thanks, Nancy, great advice. We have the heat here, too. Maybe tomorrow afternoon we will get some relief. I spent park of the afternoon down cellar cleaning, and part taking a siesta in front of the fan. Now, I am on my second jug of ice water! Don’t you think the heat feels worse because we don’t have it much?

  22. And don’t forget #7: if you just had heat exhaustion Monday, it’s best not to try to accomplish too much on Tuesday, even if Tuesday isn’t especially hot.

  23. Holy cow, that is terrifying. I thought that was just how it felt to work in the sun, now I’m afraid to do it. I think I’ll just lay low until a nice cool day.

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