The Importance of Being Cool
Summer is in full swing, and this year is a bit more special as we all begin to return to a somewhat normal life. In the South, the summer months can be extraordinarily hot and humid, so whether you’re working or playing outdoors, it’s important to take precautions to avoid heat-related illness. According to the CDC, more than 700 people die annually from extreme heat, and many of these deaths could be prevented by staying cool, hydrated and informed.
There are a few conditions caused by extreme heat including:
Heat Rash – This is an irritation of the skin due to excessive sweating that presents as small blisters usually on the neck, chest, groin or in elbow creases.
Heat Cramps – When you sweat, you lose a lot of salt and moisture. This can cause muscle cramps, pain or spasms. Heat cramps can also be a symptom of a more serious issue – heat exhaustion.
Heat Exhaustion – Another response to excessive sweating is heat exhaustion. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, weakness and nausea. Your body temperature can also rise, which could lead to the life-threatening situation of heat stroke.
Heat Stroke – Of all the heat-related illnesses, heat stroke is the most serious. The symptoms are like that of heat exhaustion, but if it isn’t treated immediately, it can lead to death or permanent disability.
Along with the high heat and humidity, certain other risk factors can also play a part:
Age – People who are older than 65 or younger than 4 aren’t as efficient when it comes to regulating their body temperature and are more likely to become dehydrated.
Weight – Obesity can have an impact on your body’s ability to cool itself. Fat reserves act as insulation and overweight bodies also produce more heat.
Lifestyle – Those who work or perform physical activities outdoors increase their risk for heat-related illness. This risk is even greater for people who aren’t accustomed to this behavior.
Medications – Some prescription drugs can cause side effects that lead to dehydration or lower blood pressure and slow heart rates, which can make you more susceptible to the heat.
There are a few things to consider during extremely hot days to help prevent heat-related illness:
Stay Hydrated – Making sure your body has the fluid it needs is essential. Keep water or sports drinks handy when exposed to the heat, particularly when performing strenuous activities.
Take Breaks – Find a cool, shaded place to rest, and do it frequently. If you can go inside to an air-conditioned room, that’s even better.
Dress Appropriately – Wear loose, light-colored and breathable clothing. A hat with a brim is also a good choice.
If you think you are suffering from any heat-related illness, or if you notice someone else who might be, don’t wait until it’s too late. Symptoms can include dizziness, fever, weakness, nausea and excess sweating. If you’re experiencing any of these, get to a cool spot quickly and take small sips of water or sports drinks. Take it easy and seek some help or call 911, if needed.
Santee Cooper is committed to a culture of safety. We recently earned second place in the American Public Power Association’s Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2020, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce also honored us with a safety award for making safety a priority. We encourage everyone to keep safety in mind with everything they do and have put together some great safety tips when dealing with electricity.