‘Cooler by the Lake’ has its advantagesIf you’ve been thinking this summer seems awfully warm for northern Minnesota, you’re right! I heard we are experiencing the warmest summer in the 142 years that data has been collected.
By: Ann Busche, Duluth Budgeteer News
If you’ve been thinking this summer seems awfully warm for northern Minnesota, you’re right! I heard we are experiencing the warmest summer in the 142 years that data has been collected. Our beautiful Lake Superior can offer natural air conditioning depending on which way the wind is blowing; however, on those hot and humid days, and particularly when they last for several days in a row, we must take care to stay healthy.
When your body gets hot, it tries to cool itself through sweating, which causes you to lose water and salts. If you don’t put enough fluids back into your body, you get dehydrated. Certain medications that cause your body to lose water can accelerate dehydration on hot days. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry skin, fatigue, lightheadedness, confusion, dry mouth, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and less frequent urination. It’s important to drink fluids such as water, juice or sports drinks during hot weather.
Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be a result of not giving your body a break from the heat, or exercising strenuously during hot weather. Watch for these symptoms of heat exhaustion: headache, blurred vision, upset stomach, vomiting, sluggishness or fatigue, thirst, profuse sweating, and a moderate increase in body temperature.
Children, seniors, outdoor workers, and sports enthusiasts are most susceptible to heat stroke. Heat stroke is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms are headache, dizziness, agitation or confusion, sluggishness or fatigue, seizures, hot dry skin, increased internal body temperature, loss of consciousness, rapid heart beat, and hallucinations.
While children under the age of four, elderly adults, and those taking certain medications may be most at risk for heat-related illnesses, anyone can be affected. So, on those days when our lake doesn’t keep us cool, we can do the following:
Take frequent breaks when outside working or playing.
Wear lightweight clothing. Wear light-colored clothing and a hat to reflect away the heat of the sun.
Slow down your physical activity level, particularly when the sun is most intense from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (there is a reason why people in warm climates take a siesta).
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, but do not drink beverages with
caffeine or alcohol, as they accelerate the effect of heat stroke.
Take a cool shower or bath, or join your kids in a run through the sprinkler!
Go to a movie, shopping mall, public library or other public building that has air conditioning. Getting out of the heat, even for just a few hours, is good.
Use a fan to provide comfort (but when temperatures are in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illnesses).
Source: Minnesota Department of Health website, www.health.state.mn.us
Remember to check on elderly neighbors or who have small children. And don’t forget about the family pet. Make sure it always has access to drinking water and a shady spot. Never leave a child or an animal locked in a car for even a short period of time.
Enjoy our summer weather, and stay cool and healthy.
Ann Busche is the director of the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services department. Contact her at 726-2096 or email firstname.lastname@example.org