For much of the United States, the temperatures and humidity over the past week have been incredibly high, causing what's been termed a "heat dome" over much of the country. Luckily, it appears that the worst of the weather may finally be over, so I've started to wonder how to recover from the heat dome. What are some healthy ways to take care of your body after you've been exposed to dangerously high temperatures and humidity? Looking after your health is always serious business, but it's especially important when the weather conditions are potentially harmful.
When it comes to staying safe during and after a heat wave, it's also important to remember that some people are more sensitive to heat than others. In particular, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend looking after young children and seniors over the age of 65 closely during extreme heat. That said, everyone should take health precautions at times like this. While hot, sunny days may mean awesome beach trips or days off from work, it's not a time to put your health on the back burner.
While not all-inclusive, check out the list below for suggestions on how to stay safe during and after a heat dome.
1. Stay Hydrated
The CDC recommends drinking more than the standard amount of water during a heat wave. In fact, they advise drinking water before you actually feel thirsty. Why? Thirst is actually your body letting you know it's already dehydrated, so if you wait until you're thirsty to drink water, it might already be too late. Preventing dehydration altogether is really the way to go. It's also best to stick to just water, and avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages during and while recovering from the heat dome.
2. Avoid Strenuous Activity
Whether you typically exercise, enjoy outdoor activities, or just had some strenuous activities planned (moving season, anyone?), it's probably best to avoid it during a heat wave. Putting that extra strain on your body when you're adapting to dangerously high temperatures puts you at risk for serious health consequences. As CNN points out, heat dome weather conditions can literally be deadly, so if you can avoid strenuous activities, it's probably for the best. And even though the worst of it is over right now, your body may still need some time to rest up.
3. Stay Indoors As Much As You Can
According to Time Out, it's extra important to stay indoors during a heat dome. If you must be outside, wear lightweight clothing that won't attract further heat. It's not a bad idea to carry an umbrella or wear a wide-brimmed hat, as well. If your home doesn't have air conditioning, it's a good move to go to a cooler place, like a movie theater or mall, where you can cool down in the AC for a while.
4. Protect Your Skin
Skin protection is always important, but if you're going to be outside during a heat dome, it's even more important that you take the time to add some SPF. Damage to your skin can have both short- and long-term effects on your health. According to U.S. News, it's advisable to apply and reapply sunscreen to any areas of exposed skin. This helps prevent sunburns in the short term, as well as long-term skin damage. Make sure not to forget about sensitive areas, such as your scalp, too!
5. Look For Symptoms Of Heat Exhaustion
According to the CDC, heat exhaustion can occur several days after experiencing extreme heat, so it's important to keep an eye out for possible signs and symptoms, even if the heat dome has passed. Often, people experience heat exhaustion when they've had too much exposure to high temperatures and not enough fluids. Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, a fast pulse, and nausea.
So, there you have it! Make sure to stay safe and look after your health, and if you notice any symptoms or negative changes in the way you're feeling, never hesitate to seek medical attention. Remember, your health is a top priority, no matter the circumstances.
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