Beat the heat

TORRINGTON – Summer is most certainly here. The first day of summer was officially June 21, despite much of eastern Wyoming already feeling the heat of summer well before then. With the scorching temperatures well in to the 90’s, it doesn’t hurt to have a quick refresher on how to prevent sunburns, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in hot or humid conditions. The OSHA Heat Illness Prevention campaign educates employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat.”

On the bright side, heat-related illnesses can easily be prevented. Drinking plenty of cool water, taking rest breaks, finding shade and dressing appropriately can help stop problems before they get started. 

Drinking cool water helps the body regulate its temperature and keeps one hydrated. Staying hydrated is essential to battling heat exhaustion and more severely, heat stroke. Many people don’t realize they are dehydrated until it is too late. 

The signs of dehydration include, but are not limited to:

• Feeling thirsty

• Headache, dizziness, weakness

• Pale skin or flushed red skin, swelling

• Dark-yellow, strong-smelling urine

• Fatigue

• Dry mouth, lips and eyes

To properly stay hydrated, one must drink plenty of water, regularly, rather than waiting and drinking a bunch of water in one setting. According to Mayo Clinic, “To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat food high in water such as fruits and vegetables. Letting thirst be your guide is an adequate daily guideline for most healthy people.” 

Staying hydrated in the summertime takes a little more vigilance as heavy sweating will bring the onset of dehydration much quicker. If one finds themselves dehydrated and is looking to rehydrate, stay clear of sugary and alcoholic drinks as these may cause you to become even more dehydrated.

The easiest way to avoid overexposure to the potentially harmful rays of the sun is to stay inside, stay in the shade and dress appropriately. Now, many locals are farmers, ranchers or the like, so they can’t avoid being outside.

Here are some tips to protect oneself:

• Wear long-sleeve shirts, pants and a hat with a wide brim

• Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater

• Be mindful to re-apply sunscreen as necessary, typically every two hours

• Take breaks from the sunlight, sit in the shade, cool off in the air conditioning

Knowing and recognizing the symptoms of overexposure to sunlight and heat can make a significant impact on the ability to avoid heatstroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat cramps are:

• Muscle pain or spasms

• Heavy sweating during intense exercise

• Fainting

• Headache

• Dizziness

• Tiredness or weakness

• Muscle cramps

• Nausea or vomiting

• Fast, weak pulse

• Cold, pale and clammy skin

If one thinks they are experiencing these symptoms as a result of overexposure to heat, one should move to a cool place, loosen their clothing, wet a cloth or clothing to cool the body and sip water. Drinking too much water too quickly can lead to vomiting and more intense symptoms. Drinking extremely cold water can also be dangerous when one has overheated as it can cause a person to go into shock, which is a “critical condition brought on by the sudden drop in blood flow through the body,” according to Mayo Clinic. 

According to the CDC, symptoms of heat stroke are:

• Losing consciousness

• Confusion

• Nausea

• Dizziness

• Headache

• Strong, fast pulse

• Hot, red, dry or damp skin

• High body temperature (103°F or higher)

People subjected to heat stroke will likely not be able to help themselves and will need the aid of others. If one finds someone experiencing these symptoms, they should call 911 right away, move the person to a cooler location, help the person lower their body temperature by placing cool cloths on them or placing them in a cool bath, remove or loosen clothing, apply ice packs to the armpits and groin and have the person lie down with their feet elevated. People experiencing heat stroke should not drink anything as they will likely need an intravenous (IV) treatment to restore their fluid and electrolyte levels. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and should be handled accordingly.

Work hard and play hard but don’t fall victim to the dangers of heat-related illness. Drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing and take some time in the shade. Have an incredible summer without any visits to the emergency room.


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