This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Are you ready for summer? After the long, wet winter that we had here in Northern Nevada, many have been longing for sunny skies and warmer weather. With Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, in the rearview mirror, the weather this week promises to give Carson-area residents a taste of what’s in store for the coming months. Temperatures are soaring in Northern Nevada, with today projected to be the hottest to date. It’s important to remember that heat can cause some health risks, but you can enjoy our summer climate safely by taking a few precautions. There’s plenty of hot weather still to come, so now is the time to brush up on hot weather safety with these tips:
Know the signs of heat-related illness: Being in the heat can have dangerous health consequences for people who develop heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you or someone nearby begins to experience heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, and clammy skin; a fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; or fainting, this could be the beginning of a heat-related health emergency. It is crucial to get this person cool quickly. Move them to a cooler place, place wet cloths on them to help cool off, and offer sips of cold water. If symptoms progress to the point where the person has stopped sweating or becomes unconscious, call 911 immediately, as they may be experiencing heat stroke. This is a life-threatening emergency.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your body cool. Sweating is one of the main ways our body cools itself, and you may be losing lots of water that way without realizing it. In our dry climate, sweat evaporates quickly, so it may not seem like you’re sweating as much as you are. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to start drinking. Water is a great hydration choice for most people, but if you’re exercising vigorously or sweating heavily, consider a sports drink with electrolytes to replenish some of the salts lost in sweat.
Seek shade: If you’re outdoors and feeling hot, seek out a spot sheltered from the sun. You can also take a break in a climate-controlled building if the heat becomes too much. There are plenty of fun indoor things to do during the hottest part of the day. Save exercise or outdoor work for early in the morning before it gets too hot, or wait until evening when it begins to cool off. Consider wearing sunscreen, as well as lightweight, light colored long-sleeved clothing and a brimmed hat to provide the best protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Check on elderly neighbors: Seniors are particularly at risk of health problems in the heat. If you have older neighbors, check on them frequently to make sure they are well. Ensure that they have a safe place to go to get out of the heat.
Don’t forget your pets: If you’re hot, they probably are, too. Make sure pets and livestock have a shaded refuge from the hot sun, and plenty of fresh, clean water to drink. If possible, bring your pet into a climate-controlled area to help them cool off. Some pets might also enjoy a kiddie pool to cool off in. Remember to never leave pets in your vehicle, especially on a hot day.
For information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org, or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.