While summer doesn’t officially begin until June 20, the heatwave that has taken over most of the U.S. makes it feel like the warmest season in the Northern Hemisphere has always begun.

And after being relegated to working from or pursuing education virtually for over a year because of COVID-19-related restrictions, many Americans have already started to spread our wings and get outside as much as possible.

But as you leave home to gather with friends at your favorite restaurant or to walk the dog at the park, beware of the heat.

Heat stroke counts as a potentially life-threatening condition that develops when the body overheats, usually after prolonged exposure to the sun. This condition can affect people of any age but it’s most often seen in young children, athletes who train outdoors, during hot weather and people over the age of 50. When combined with dehydration, another common symptom in extreme heat, heat stroke can damage the brain and internal organs and may even be fatal. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and 911 or any other emergency services should be called as soon someone suspects this condition.

When your body gets too hot, you may experience a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Such illnesses can be dangerous. In fact, on average, there are more heat-related deaths in the U.S. each year than hurricane- or flood-related fatalities combined.

However, heat exhaustion and heat stroke remain preventable – but you need to be aware and know the symptoms. According to the CDC, signs of heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, include:

Body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more (40 degrees Celsius)
Fast and strong pulse
Skin that is hot to the touch. The skin may also be red, dry, or damp.
Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting

Call 911 immediately if someone is showing heat stroke symptoms as it is a medical emergency. While you wait for help, the CDC recommends that you provide first-aid treatment: move the person to a cooler place out of the sun; and cool the person by applying cold, wet cloths or by placing the person in a cool-water bath. Move to a cooler place out of the sun.

Other preventive steps include drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, refraining from exercising outdoors during the hottest times of the day, taking breaks to cool down under the shade if you’re playing, exercising, or working outdoors and seeking shelter during heave waves.

Be cool. Stay cool.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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