When the heat index is high, it's best to stay in an air-conditioned environment. If you must go outdoors, you can prevent heat stroke by taking these steps:
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
- Drink extra fluids. To prevent dehydration, it's generally recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water, fruit juice, or vegetable juice per day. Because heat-related illness also can result from salt depletion, it may be advisable to substitute an electrolyte-rich sports drink for water during periods of extreme heat and humidity.
- Take additional precautions when exercising or working outdoors.The general recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise, and consider adding another 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise. During exercise, you should consume another 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes, even if you don't feel thirsty.
- Reschedule or cancel outdoor activity. If possible, shift your time outdoors to the coolest times of the day, either early morning or after sunset.
Other strategies for preventing heat stroke include:
- Monitoring the color of your urine. Darker urine is a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink enough fluids to maintain very light-colored urine.
- Measuring your weight before and after physical activity. Monitoring lost water weight can help you determine how much fluid you need to drink.
Avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol, because both substances can make you lose more fluids and worsen heat-related illness. Also, do not take salt tablets unless your doctor has told you to do so. The easiest and safest way to replace salt and other electrolytes during heat waves is to drink sports beverages or fruit juice.
Check with your doctor before increasing liquid intake if you have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention.
If you live in an apartment or house without fans or air conditioning, try to spend at least two hours each day -- preferably during the hottest part of the day -- in an air-conditioned environment. At home, draw your curtains, shades, or blinds during the hottest part of the day, and open windows at night on two sides of your building to create cross-ventilation.
If you're a senior who either can't afford to buy or run an air conditioner, check with your local Area Agency on Aging for programs that can assist you. One such program is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
This answer should not be considered medical advice...This answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.
Archived: March 20, 2014
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