By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Escaping the summer heat and humidity may prove downright difficult for many Northeast Mississippians, if you’ve got plans for a holiday barbecue or a picnic or whatever else sounds good outside an air-conditioned setting.
This weekend, thousands of the region’s residents will converge on community Fourth of July celebrations for music, fun, food and fireworks.
Heatstroke and sunburn loom as dangers for every one of them.
The esteemed Mayo Clinic based in Rochester, Minn., reports heatstroke is the most severe of the heat-related problems, often resulting from exercise or heavy work in hot environments combined with inadequate fluid intake.
Tupelo’s Dr. Edward Hill, a former president of the American Medical Association, also warns about overexposure to the sun.
He advises outdoor enthusiasts to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every few hours after.
He also suggests avoiding direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when ultraviolet radiation is at its peak, plus wearing sunglasses with total UV protection and a wide-brimmed hat.
At highest risk for heatstroke are the young, the old, the overweight and folks born with an impaired ability to sweat. Other issues putting people at risk include dehydration, alcohol use, cardiovascular disease and certain medications.
But when does just being hot become a serious matter?
Medical experts agree that’s when the body’s normal mechanisms for dealing with heat stress, such as sweating and temperature control, aren’t enough.
The main sign of heatstroke is a markedly elevated body temperature – generally greater than 104 degrees – with changes in mental status ranging from personality changes to confusion and coma. Skin may be hot and dry – although if heatstroke is caused by exertion, the skin may be moist.
If you must be out in the heat, experts advise you to:
- Take it slow.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Dress appropriately in lightweight, loose-fitting clothes of light colors, which reflect the heat.
- Avoid the midday sun.
- Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
If you suspect a heat-related illness, stop exercising and get out of the heat. Drink water, and wet and fan your skin.
If you don’t feel better within 60 minutes, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever higher than 102 degrees or become faint or confused, seek immediate medical help.
Contact Patsy Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.