The first day of summer was just recently, and temperatures are beginning to soar for much of the country as the season begins in earnest, often feeling much hotter with the humidity. When it’s this hot, it’s a good idea to treat the risks with respect, and take steps to protect yourself. Here are some of the horrible effects of extreme heat.
Your body starts acting weird
The human body has an internal temperature of around 37°C, and it doesn’t like it when that number wobbles in either direction! Changes of as little as a single degree can cause your body’s delicate biochemistry to glitch in not-so-nice (and sometimes strange) ways.
Have you ever had a muscle cramp on a really hot day while doing something like heavy lifting? You can likely blame that on the temperature. You’ve sweated out lots of water, but even if you’ve been hydrating, you’re not getting enough electrolytes. The resulting salt imbalance is what’s causing the cramps.
For people really not used to the heat, there’s a risk of heat edema – to avoid overheating, your body dilates your blood vessels to try to radiate as much heat away from your system as possible, causing blood to pool in your ankles.
Even sweating might not go as it’s supposed to. If you develop tiny red spots on your skin with a prickly sensation, that’s a heat rash. It’s caused when your sweat pores become blocked.
That’s not all – according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, if you are exposed to extreme heat for a prolonged period of time, you may stop sweating altogether – a step on the road to potentially fatal heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion sets in
Heat exhaustion is when you’ve lost enough body fluids and salt that the body begins losing it’s ability to cope. As your core temperature rises further above the body’s natural 37°C sweet spot, your sweating intensifies, your thirst becomes greater, your dizziness increases, and you feel more and more fatigued.
Your nausea may reach the point where you start to vomit, and diarrhea may set in. Those muscle cramps we mentioned earlier may happen more frequently, you’ll experience heart palpitations, and tingling or numbness of the hands or feet. You might not feel all of these at once, but even just a couple of these symptoms in either yourself or a companion should be enough to raise the alarm.
What to do?
Get medical aid. Stay with the person until help arrives.
Move to a cooler, shaded location.
Remove as many clothes as possible (including socks and shoes).
Apply cool, wet cloths or ice to the head, face, or neck. Spray with cool water.
Encourage the person to drink water, clear juice, or a sports drink.
Most importantly, do it fast. Without treatment, the sufferer may find themselves in the grip of a potentially deadly heat stroke.
To avoid this kind of situation altogether, click here to read our tips on how to stay cool in a heat wave. Also make sure to outfit your living spaces with Briza to control the temperature at home and in your office.