Those of us that live in Texas know the days get hotter and hotter in August. Many of us keep on working outdoors without much change in our daily routine. This hot weather increases the risks for heat cramp, heat exhaustion and heat strokes. While heat cramps and heat exhaustion can make you feel miserable, heat strokes can kill you. Here are some tips to help your reduce your risks.
Drink lots of cool water, even more than you think you need when the weather is hot and humid. Water is the best; fruit and vegetable juices are good too.
Drink at least a gallon of liquid a day about 16 glasses when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees and you are not in air conditioned places. This means more than you usually do.
Do not drink beer or alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea or other drinks containing caffeine because they cause you to lose fluid.
Maintain normal salt intake in your diet (1 ½ teaspoons or less per day.) If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, ask your doctor about salt intake.
Wear light-colored clothes that are loosely woven and absorbent. Cotton is best as it absorbs moisture. Wear a hat to shade your head.
Avoid activities outside during the hottest part of the day usually between 3 and 6 p.m. If you are required to be outside, take frequent breaks and drink cool water. Do not run or do other types of energetic exercise during the heat of the day. Get wet, bathe or shower as often as possible without drying, this gives your body a cooling system boost.
If there is no air conditioning:
- Use a fan.
- Open windows wide to create cross ventilation.
- If your home or apartment is shaded from the sun, the windows should be open on that side and the shades should be closed on the sunny side of your home.
- Avoid cooking.
- Go to a cool place if possible like a library, the grocery store or a shopping center during the heat of the day.
- Take frequent, cool baths or showers.
Realize that older people are more sensitive to heat and may easily suffer heat-related sickness. Also, anyone with diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, or Parkinson’s disease is more sensitive to the effects of heat. Check on your neighbors and family members daily during the hot days of summer.
If you are exercising or doing physical activity in hot weather, you must have an unlimited amount of water available to drink and you should:
Drink two glasses of water, juice or sports drink two hours before physical activity.
Drink 4 to 8 ounces or more of water or sports drink 5 to 10 minutes before physical activity.
Drink 8 to 10 ounces of fluid or as much as you can tolerate every 15 to 20 minutes during heavy physical activity.
Avoid drinks with caffeine as they can cause muscle cramps.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to maintain adequate amounts of sodium and potassium.
Avoid taking salt tablets, most foods provide enough sodium.
For more information, contact Sherri Halsell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Clay County agent at (940) 538-5042.