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Tips for Beating the Summer Heat

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Summer is in full swing and so are the long, hot summer days.  With more hours of sunlight, river play and backyard BBQs can last for hours, but can you?  Sunburns, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious issues that can be prevented with some planning.

Guard against the most common effect of sun exposure. Sunburns can be prevented when sunblock is applied before heading outdoors and reapplied throughout the day - and cloudy or cool days are no exception. For extra protection from the sun's rays, find shade and wear a hat to protect your face.  

Aside from sunburns, heat exhaustion is also a common issue.  When your body overheats from strenuous physical exercise or simply being outside in hot temperatures, it can cause heavy sweating, intense thirst, weakness, dizziness, nausea, confusion and headache.  To treat heat exhaustion, get to a cool place - preferably an air conditioned building, loosen clothing, avoid caffeinated or alcohol drinks and instead drink lots of water.

If heat exhaustion goes untreated, it could lead to heat stroke, which occurs when your internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees. Heat stroke needs to be treated immediately and can cause serious damage to organs and death.  Decreased sweating, hot and dry skin, difficulty breathing, disorientation and seizures are some of the effects.  If you think someone has heat stroke symptoms, call emergency personnel and wait in an air-conditioned room, loosen clothing, and provide the person with water and cold compresses, if possible.

If you're without air conditioning during the hot summer months, find cool spots such as restaurants, movie theaters, shaded parks, public libraries and malls.  Spending a few hours respite in a cool place will lower the body's internal temperature. Wear light-colored clothing and stick with breathable fabrics such as cotton, which will keep you cooler. Keep hydrated, and if you need to do outdoor activities, do them in the morning before the temperature starts to rise.

Summer tips include storing sunblock or lotion in the refrigerator, and plastic water bottles in the freezer, so they'll be cool when you're ready for them.  The frozen water bottle can also be used as a cold compress for the back of the neck or arms.

You can also help to stay cool by finding a public swimming pool.

Having fun in the summer sun is easy if you plan ahead and take the necessary steps to stay safe and notice the signs of heat-related sicknesses.  Sunblock, shade and lots of water will help to ensure your summer adventures are happy ones.