Texarkana to Hit 100° This Weekend – How Do You Avoid Heat Stroke?
Here we are, minding our own business, going through a pretty mild springtime, and WHAMO... the mid-summer heat slaps us right across the kisser, and right on time too. How do you avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Keep reading and let's find out.
First, It's Storytime
A couple of years ago I had a very rude reminder of just how fast heat exhaustion can sneak up on you, and frankly, it got a little scary:
I love running and gunning at the Texarkana Gun Club and we finally got back to it after a couple of months layoff during COVID. With the return of our monthly USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) match also came the heat. Suddenly I realized about 2/3 of the way through the match that I had stopped sweating and my heart was racing a bit too fast. I had been attempting to hydrate with water and Poweraid but that process really should have started a few days before, not the day of. Before things got worse I grabbed some water and went into a cool building to try and get it under control and thankfully I was able to do so...
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can and will catch you by surprise if you're not paying attention to what your body is telling you. Luckily, I have had some training in first aid through many years in Scouting so I was able to recognize the signs maybe a little faster than some might and didn't try to "man up" and hang in there. That kind of macho nonsense can get you hospitalized and maybe even killed in the Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas' heat and humidity. I found a cool place to sit, some cold water for my neck and face, and to drink in time to avoid serious problems.
Water Is Your Friend
Here are some tips from Texas Health and Human Services:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day even if you do not feel thirsty; you may not realize you're dehydrated until it's too late. Also, avoid alcohol and beverages high in caffeine or sugar during periods of prolonged outdoor exposure.
- Pay attention to your body. Heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke can develop quickly. Know the warning signs and seek medical attention if necessary.
- Check on others, especially the elderly, sick, very young and those without air conditioning.
- Don't forget pet safety. Animals are also susceptible to heat-related injury or death – don't put your pets in these dangerous conditions.
- Limit exposure to the sun and stay indoors as much as possible. If possible, avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day.
- Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat are recommended while spending time outdoors.
- Wear sunscreen. Sunburns can affect your body's ability to cool down. Protect yourself during periods of sun exposure by putting on sunscreen SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside.
Click on the link for more information from Texas Health and Human Services.
Ready.gov recommends the following Recognize & Respond
Know the signs of heat-related illness and how to respond to it.
- Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs.
- Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
- Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting.
- Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
- Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally
- Red, hot and dry skin with no sweat
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness
- Actions: Call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
Whether you're boating, fishing, mudding, shooting, beaching, camping, hiking, etc... if you're outside, take care of yourself and be aware of what your body is telling you.
Don't mess around with the heat, the last couple of years have been tough on all of us during the pandemic, get out there, see the world, and have a fun summer, but let's be safe while we're at it.
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