Heat Safety this Summer

Published: June 6, 2018

Heat Safety this Summer

Anyone who has lived in Yakima knows that while the Pacific Northwest has friendlier summers than states like Texas or even New York, it can still get toasty. Summer in Washington is a great time to get out and see all the wonderful nature that the Yakima Valley has to offer. But it’s important to remember that as we age, we can become more vulnerable to heat sickness.

Tips to Keep Cool

While staying inside is one way to keep cool, if you’re more outdoorsy, it can be very limiting to spend the bright summer days in the mall or at the movies. If you enjoy hiking, nature-watching, or even rafting, these tips can help you keep your body cool.

Drink water. Even if you’re rafting on the cool waters of the Yakima River, you can get dehydrated, which can cause your body to overheat. Water is best, but fruit juices and sports drinks will also prevent dehydration. Try to avoid overindulging in alcohol or sodas.

Dress appropriately. If you know you’re going to be outside, wear thin layers that can easily be shed if you get too warm. Thin long sleeve shirts can help protect you from sunburn while allowing air to easily flow through the material and ventilate you.

Don’t forgo the SPF! Even if you’re looking to bronze up this summer, sunscreen is vital for your skin, especially in our later years. Preventing wrinkles and fine lines is just one function of sunscreen; it also protects you from dangerous UV ray exposure that can contribute to certain types of skin diseases. Don’t forget to protect your eyes from UV rays as well with sunglasses! You can actually burn your eyes during especially bright days if you go without a pair of shades.

Watch for Heat Sickness (Hyperthermia)

Heat sickness or hyperthermia (not to be confused with hypothermia) is a surefire way to ruin a fun summer’s day. Symptoms of overheating can be sudden or appear over several hours, but they are indicative of three phases of hyperthermia:

  1. Heat cramps: The mildest form, heat cramps occur when you experience involuntary muscle spasms when out in the heat. These usually occur in major muscle groups and are often paired with profuse sweating. This is the first phase of overheating.
  2. Heat exhaustion: The second phase of overheating is heat exhaustion, in which the body begins to really display signs of discomfort. This can include weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, vomiting, and even fainting. If you or a loved one start experiencing these symptoms, move to a cooler environment (preferably inside) and rehydrate with a sports drink (electrolytes can help alleviate symptoms) or water.
  3. Heatstroke: Heatstroke is the most dangerous phase of hyperthermia and can quickly become fatal if left untreated. Heatstroke occurs when the body cannot cool down due to overheating, and your core body temperature is too high—think 105 degrees or greater. If you or someone else may be experiencing heat stroke, call 911 or get medical help immediately.

If you observe or experience any symptoms of heat sickness, even if it’s only feeling a little tired after a long day in the sun, take a break and spend some time in the shade or inside while hydrating.

Yakima is a beautiful place to be when summer arrives. With so many local events both in the Valley and at Quail Run, it’s hard to run out of things to do, but if you’re planning some summer activities with friends and family, be sure to check out 6 things you should try in Yakima this summer!