5 Ways to Avoid Heat Exhaustion

By John Rose, June 20, 2014, Events & Fun

I have never liked the cold. When my family first moved to Texas, I rejoiced at the hot summer days while my wife sulked as she moved from one air-conditioned building to the next. However, with five summers in Texas under my belt, I will admit that they have slightly lost their charm. The heat can be a cruel master, and it really does not take long for a heat-related illness to develop. So today, I shall guide you through the top ways to avoid heat exhaustion while still enjoying your summer.

Don't be this guy.

Don’t be this guy.

1) Drink lots of water. This has to be number 1 – it’s the most important tip by a long shot. Dehydration is, coincidentally, the number 1 cause of heat related illnesses. We’ve all done it: gone out for some time in the sun, only to end up with an awful headache, a raging thirst, and a deep annoyance at ourselves for not bringing along a single bottle of water. The simple answer? Buy yourself a water bottle you love and keep it with you (and filled) at all times. The hard part? Getting into the habit of taking it everywhere. But if you can train yourself (and your family) to keep hydrated, I promise you there will be several times over the summer that you will think of this article and thank me.

5 Ways to Avoid Heat Exhaustion so You can Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Summer

Be this lady instead. Image courtesy of Public Domain Photos. https://www.flickr.com/photos/free-stock/

2) Limit your alcohol and caffeine. This closely follows Tip #1, but don’t hate me for it. Not only are these beverages considered diuretics (you’ll visit the bathroom more often), they also alter the blood flow in your body, which in turn can affect the way you sweat. If you are a coffee and Diet Coke man like myself, this is not welcome news, but you shouldn’t drink this stuff if you’re playing outside on a hot day. If water is just not your bag at all, then find alternatives you do like by adding fresh fruit to flavor your water, drinking an iced (decaffeinated) tea, or trying a hydrating sport drink.

3) Stay inside during the hottest hours of the day. It really is OK to stay indoors and enjoy blissful air conditioning (or at the very least a fan). This is not always convenient or fun, as the afternoons are my favorite time to take my little one to the park, since it fits in with our schedule, and I can wear him out just in time for his nap. But during this time of year, the slides are “butt-burning” by noon, which means that we need schedule play time in the morning hours instead. However, the alternative is to stay indoors all day, and those four walls get boring very quickly with an active toddler.

5 Ways to Avoid Heat Exhaustion so You can Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Summer

Seriously, make sure your kid has water.

4) Dress and prepare appropriately. This basically means you should wear light cool clothing, have sunscreen, and have plenty of water. You could even wear a hat for shade where there is none otherwise. We also recommend spraying your skin with water when you feel hot, since the water evaporating off your skin is your body’s natural way of cooling you down. You can also invest in something like a Frogg Toggs “Chilly Pad.”  These are made of a fabric that gets cool when wet, so you can moisten it, put it around your neck, and keep cool while you are exposed to sunlight.

5 Ways to Avoid Heat Exhaustion so You can Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Summer

Much better!

5) Know your limits. Simply put, there is no harm in taking a break, going inside, getting cool, and then going back out to mow the lawn, fix your garden, or whatever other activity you have planned. Don’t suddenly decide you will run a marathon for the first time in the middle of the day when all your training was in the lovely air-conditioned gym. It really is better to be safe than sorry.

Overall, we want to encourage everyone to plan ahead. Make sure there is water in the car, get up a little earlier to enjoy that outdoor activity you love, and search out indoor alternatives for your favorite outdoor activities this summer. And before you know it, winter will be here, and I will be telling you how to deal with random ice storms instead.

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