When You Can't Take the Heat

Tips to Stay Safe This Summer


August 2021 Issue

We wouldn’t live in the South if we couldn’t handle a little heat, but how can you tell when it’s just too much? There’s no shame in admitting when you’ve reached the limit of your heat tolerance. Heat-related illnesses range from mild to severe and can affect even the toughest Southerner out there. As the summer heat peaks, it’s imperative to remember the importance of hot weather safety. Staying cool, hydrated and informed can make a big difference!

There are several types of heat-related illnesses, each with its own symptoms and treatments. Knowing which type you or a loved one may be suffering from can make a huge difference in deciding how to proceed. As you take advantage of all the fun summer activities available in the Lowcountry, be aware of the potential health hazards the sun, heat and humidity can bring on. Anyone can be susceptible to these effects of high temperatures, so familiarize yourself with the following facts before spending a significant amount of time outside. You could save a life, even your own!

Heat-related Illnesses


What to Look For:

• High body temperature (103°or higher)
• Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
• Fast, strong pulse
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Confusion
• Losing Consciousness (passing out)

What to Do:

• Call 911 right away.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency!
• Move the person to a cooler place.
• Help lower the person’s temperature
with cool cloths or a cool bath.
• Do NOT give the person anything to drink.

Heat Exhaustion

What to Look for:

• Heavy sweating
• Cold, pale and clammy skin
• Fast, weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness or weakness
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Fainting (passing out)

What to Do:

• Move to a cool place.
• Loosen your clothes.
• Put cool, wet cloths on your body,
or take a cool bath.
• Sip water.
• Get medical help right away if:
        > You are throwing up.
        > Your symptoms get worse.
        > Your symptoms last longer than one hour.

Heat Cramps

What to Look for:

• Heavy sweating during intense exercise
• Muscle pain or spasms

What to Do:
• Stop physical activity and move to a cool place.
• Drink water or a sports drink.
• Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity.
• Get medical help right away if:
        > Cramps last longer than an hour.
        > You’re on a low-sodium diet.
        > You have heart problems.


What to Look for:

• Painful, red and warm skin
• Blisters on the skin

What to Do:
• Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals.
• Put cool cloths on sunburned areas, or take a cool bath.
• Put moisturizing lotion or sun care gel on sunburned areas.
• Do NOT break blisters.

Heat Rash

What to Look For:

• Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin
(usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases).

What to Do
• Stay in a cool, dry place.
• Keep the rash dry.
• Use non-talcum powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash.

Information provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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