Summer heat is impacting Nebraska this weekend, and medical experts say you have to take it seriously.
Dr. Eric Ernest with the University of Nebraska Medical Center says limiting outside activities is key to staying safe.
“The longer you’re out in those elements, the higher risk you have of suffering heat-related illness,” Ernest tells Nebraska Radio Network. “If you’re going to be out in the heat, take frequent breaks – either in the shade or an air conditioned area. Also, make sure you stay very well hydrated – not only with water, but also to replenish electrolytes.”
You should also avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks in the heat, wear loose, light-colored clothing, and sunscreen.
“If you have that feeling of thirst or dry mouth, it’s a good idea to increase the amount that you’re currently drinking,” Ernest says. “It’s recommended that you drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid for every 15 minutes of strenuous exercise or work.”
Ernest says another warning sign for becoming dehydrated is if you stop sweating.
And while you are taking care of yourself, also check on older relatives and neighbors.
“Make sure things like air conditioners or fans are working, because we see a lot of that type of thing during the summer months,” Ernest says of his experiences in the emergency room. “Someone’s air conditioner hasn’t been working for a while, in this extreme heat, especially if they live in an apartment complex or upper part of a house, those areas can get very, very warm very quickly.”
Also make sure kids do not get over-heated when they are outside.
Ernest says you should never leave children or pets in a car during hot weather.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers these tips to stay cool and prevent heat-related illness:
- Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
- Avoid alcohol and limit drinks with caffeine.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher).
- Never leave children or pets in a parked car.
- Pets can suffer from heat-related illness too. If your pet spends its days outside, make sure it has plenty of fresh water and shade.
- If outdoors, slow your pace and take frequent rest breaks.
- Remember, some playground equipment can get very hot so parents should do a touch test before letting their children play on it and be sure kids wear shoes to protect feet from hot pavement or surfaces.
- Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a public building where you can cool off.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but when temperatures reach the high 90s, fans won’t prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath or move to an air-conditioned place.
- Check on elderly friends and neighbors. Make sure they’re staying cool and hydrated.
- Heat exhaustion can develop following exposure for several days to high temperatures. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, cold, pale clammy skin, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.