Hot weather can result in heat-related illnesses, injury
Exercise is one of the three pillars of good health, and essential for athletes, Soldiers and others in jobs that stress physical fitness, to stay in shape. But when temperatures rise to the extreme, it’s important to train smart and take the necessary precautions.
Being prepared ahead of time can help prevent heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which, according to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.
With summer temperatures on the way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, cdc.gov, recommends these tips for those planning to exercise during hot weather:
— Limit outdoor activity to cooler times of the day, such as morning or evening hours. Avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day when temperatures are at their peak.
— Slow down and pace yourself, especially at the beginning of your workout or training routine. Increase your pace gradually.
— When possible, opt for lightweight, loose, light-colored clothing that will reflect the sun’s rays. Dark colors absorb sunlight and can cause your core to heat rapidly and retain heat.
— Have additional water on hand, and plan to drink more than usual. Drink at regular intervals. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
— Pay attention to muscle cramping, which can be an early sign of heat-related illness.
— Keep an eye on your teammate or Battle Buddy to monitor for signs of heat-related distress.
— Make a plan to seek or call for medical assistance immediately if you or your teammate shows symptoms of heat-related illness.
Know the signs
Whether alone or in a group, recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses and knowing how to respond can save a life. Here’s what to look for, according to tips from the website ready.gov:
— Heatstroke: This is the most serious and potentially fatal heat-related illness. Body temperatures above 103 degrees, red, hot and dry skin with no sweat, rapid or strong pulse, dizziness, confusion and unconsciousness are all signs of heatstroke. If encountered, call 911 or otherwise seek immediate medical attention, and try to cool down the sufferer with whatever methods are available until help arrives.
— Heat exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. If encountered, go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of a cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Seek medical attention if symptoms get worse or persist for more than 60 minutes.
— Heat cramps: Symptoms include muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs. While more common than heat exhaustion or heat stroke, symptoms should be taken seriously. If encountered, get to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing, sip a cool sports drinks with salt and sugar and seek medical attention if cramps last more than an hour.
For more information, tips and additional resources, visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/athletes.html.