Brace for Summer Heat

first_img“Some people prefer the taste of certain bottled waters, too. If they can afford it, that’sfine,” she said. “But most people can get used to the taste of tap water.” This year’s spring stayed mild to the end, but it’s almost gone now. Summer’s comingon, and you can count on this: its intense heat can be deadly for the unwary. Use commonsense approaches to reduce the heat’s effect, too. Wearing light-colored,loose-fitting clothes can help greatly. “The most breathable fabric you can wear iscotton,” Crawley said. Intense heat leads to hyperthermia, with a range of symptoms including dizziness, rapidheartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, headache, intense weakness, breathing difficultyand mental changes. Another sign is an inability to sweat, which leads to a viciouscycle of worsening symptoms. At the top of the at-risk list, Crawley said, are the elderly. The very young are also at risk, she said, at least partly because they, too, aren’t veryaware of health-threatening changes around them. In general, she said, “use common sense.” Find easy ways to lower at-risk people’sexposure to heat and raise their intake of fluids. Caffeine can have the same dehydrating effect. “Coffee, tea and caffein-containing softdrinks probably aren’t the best choices,” she said. “We’re better prepared to handle intense heat in the South — most housing hasair-conditioning or at least fans for cooling. But many people are still at risk,” saidConnie Crawley, a food, nutrition and health specialist with the University of GeorgiaExtension Service. Any nonalcoholic fluid will meet the body’s needs, Crawley said. Alcohol dehydratesthe body and can make a person even less aware of heat stress signals. Both the elderly and the very young aren’t as likely, or as able, to tell others of theirneeds. “So the people around them need to do proactive things that help prevent heatstress,” Crawley said. “As people get older, they aren’t as sensitive to body changes,” she said. “They tend toget into trouble faster and recognize it slower.” “Thirst lags behind the body’s need for water,” she said. “That’s especially true forolder people, who may not be as conscious of thirst cues as younger adults.” In Georgia, summer rarely waits until summer to arrive. It’s usually scorching longbefore June 21 announces the season’s official start. For kids, making Kool-Aid may help, “but cut down on the sugar,” she said. “It’s bestto teach children to enjoy plain water.” “Infants and young children also have a high proportion of water to body weight,” shesaid. “They need more fluids, but they aren’t aware of it.” Encourage them to drink water regularly. Plain, moderately cool water is best. Icewater isn’t as well absorbed, and it can upset the stomach. But if people who needwater resist drinking it, try making it more appealing by adding a little ice and maybelemon juice for flavor. Schedule your most active times, particularly outdoors, in the early morning or verylate, just before dark. “People often think of noon as the hottest time,” she said.”Actually, the temperature is usually highest in mid- to late afternoon.” If you don’t have air-conditioning, baths and cold compresses can help reduce the heat.A fan helps but can give you a false sense of coolness, she said. Drinking more fluids is the best way to fight the deadly dehydrating effect of high heat.But older people may even resist drinking more fluids, Crawley said, to avoid morefrequent bathroom visits. “You can’t trust your senses when it comes to the body’s need for water,” she said.”Just know you need to drink fluids regularly when it’s hot. And remember to watchout for others, especially the elderly and the very young.”last_img

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