Your health: Six simple steps to beat the Sierra summer heat | SierraSun.com

Your health: Six simple steps to beat the Sierra summer heat

Special to the Sun

The sun rises recently above Emerald Bay, as seen from Lake Tahoe's West Shore. These days, while mornings are cool, afternoons are getting warmer and warmer throughout the region.

As temperatures rise over the next few days, regional health officials are reminding residents and visitors that heat-related illnesses can be deadly, and to take precautions to avoid them.

Below are six simple steps people can take to keep risk at a minimum:

1. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty: Increase your fluid intake regardless of your activity level. During heavy exercise in hot weather, drink 2-4 glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour.

2. Stay cool indoors: The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area. If you do not have an air conditioner or evaporative cooling unit, consider a visit to a shopping center or public library for a few hours.

3. Stay cool outdoors: Plan activities so you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will keep the head cool. While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area.

4. Monitor those at high risk: If you are 65 years or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know anyone in this age group, check on him or her at least twice a day. When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your coworkers and have someone do the same for you.

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5. Pace yourself: If you are unaccustomed to working or exercising in hot weather, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, stop all activity, get into a cool or shady area and rest, especially if you become light-headed, confused, weak or feel faint.

6. Use common sense: Do not leave infants, children or pets in a parked car. Bring your pets indoors with you to protect them. Give your outdoor animals plenty of fresh water, leave the water in a shady area, and consider wetting the animal down.

Those at highest risk of heat-related illness are the very young, the elderly and those who must work outdoors in extremely high temperatures.

Sudden rise in body temperature and dehydration can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. If not addressed quickly, brain damage or death can result.

"High temperatures like those we expect in the next few days and throughout the summer can have serious health consequences," according to Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick. "People can avoid lots of problems if they just use a little common sense."

This article was submitted by the Washoe County Health District. Visit bit.ly/1RxmMXS for a list of important tips for avoiding heat-related illness, as well as a list of symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.