As Summer is almost here and the weather is certainly heating up– it is important to remember if you are heading outdoors to SLIP, SLOP, SLAP as overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer in Australia.
With hot summers likely to continue, it’s important that we all know how to prepare for high temperature days and how to provide first aid for heat-induced. As we are spending more time outdoors, we can take measures to stay cool, remain hydrated, and keep informed.
Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off. The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:
- High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
- Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.
Those who are at highest risk include people 65 and older, children younger than two, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.
Closely monitor people who depend on you for their care and ask these questions:
- Are they drinking enough water?
- Do they have access to air conditioning?
- Do they need help keeping cool?
People at greatest risk for heat-related illness can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness and death. If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
- Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling device during an extreme heat event.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- Check on a friend or neighbour and have someone do the same for you.
- Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather:
- Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured clothing.
If you play a sport that practices during hot weather, protect yourself and look out for your teammates:
- If you are wearing a cloth face covering and feel yourself overheating or having trouble breathing, put at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others and remove the face covering.
See the below links for further tips about sunburn, protection and heat information