Staying safe in the summer heat

Don't ignore the symptoms of heat exhaustion

By Melanie Lawson - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - Now that the summer is in full swing you and your kids could be at risk of heat illness.  Long exposure to the sun can cause overheating but there are ways you can prevent it.

Playing out in the sun in triple digit temperatures is not something to play with.  Whether you're at the beach, park or ball field, it's important to listen to your body.

"The biggest thing is getting muscle cramps, that's sort of the first sign of heat exhaustion," says Dr. Reetu Grewal

Grewal at UF Health says heat cramps can be severe. They typically begin quickly in the hands, calves or feet. If this happens she says drinking water can help. But if you ignore that sign that's when doctors worry about heat exhaustion.  It's not usually life threatening but you can feel weak, nauseous, dizzy and confused.  If you feel that way you need to get into a shaded environment and hydrate.  Grewal says the earlier you drink water the better.

"We usually recommend that you actually pre-hydrate. If you know you're going to be out all day playing sports or being out in the sun try to drink plenty of fluids the day before so that way you won't get into that situation in the first place," says Grewal.

Dr. Grewal says there are two groups that especially need to pay attention.

"Younger children because they have a higher body surface ratio and so they're
able to loose heat faster. Also the elderly, on certain medications like diuretics, they can often times loose water without even realizing that they are," says Grewal.

These are groups that can benefit from reminders.  Grewal says you have to make hydrating a routine.  She says set an alarm on your phone every 20 minutes during activity to remind yourself to drink sips of water frequently.

Heat stroke is very dangerous and needs medical attention immediately. It can occur suddenly without any symptoms. If you have a very rapid or dramatically slowed heartbeat, rise in body temperature above 104 degrees, or convulsions call your doctor.

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