Summer Sun and Heat Safety Tips


Summer Sun and Heat Safety Tips

With temperatures pushing records for summer months across the United States, we asked our resident Wellness Expert, Charles Flannagan, to share a few tips on how to enjoy summer activities safely, including some you might not have known about.


1. Medications. Some medications can affect sensitivity to heat, interfere with your body’s cooling functions, decrease water and salt retention or make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). 

If you are taking medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations. 

  • Beta blockers, diuretics and calcium channel blockers: work against the protective systems that enable the body to respond to heat stress and may predispose you to heat-related emergencies.

  • Anti-Parkinson’s drugs: inhibit perspiration that keeps your body cool.

  • Antidepressants: may cause sedation and dizziness, so you may be less aware of heat problems. Some increase heat production, so your body is warmer. Tricylic anti-depressants can affect your body's ability to regulate heat.

  • Antihistamines: can stop perspiration that keeps your body cool.

  • Over-the-counter sleeping pills: some contain the same medication that is used in antihistamines. They also sedate you, so that you may not be aware how hot you are.

  • Anti-diarrhea pills: can cause confusion and dizziness.

  • Some diuretics: can make you lose water and increase your urine flow, so you can lose salt as well.

  • Psychiatric drugs: some can alter your sense of thirst so you may not realize your body needs water.


2. Know Signs of Heat Illness: Heat illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps (muscle cramps). Heat illnesses can affect you quickly and are mainly caused by overexposure or overexertion in the heat. Knowing symptoms of heat illness is particularly important for athletes, the elderly and young children.

Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include:

  • dizziness or fainting

  • nausea or vomiting

  • headache

  • rapid breathing and heartbeat

  • extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva) and

  • decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine

If you experience any of these symptoms during hot weather, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids. Water is best.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency!  Call 911 or the local emergency number immediately if someone has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused, or has stopped sweating.


3. Hydrate Early and often. The minute you step into the sun, the heat is drawing the moisture from your organs to your skin. Even just 10 minutes in the sun requires a large amount of water for rehydration.


4. Eat your veggies. As many vitamins as our good friend the sun provides, the relationship is not without injury. Excessive sun exposure (Radiation) minimizes our body's ability to fight infections.

I recommend consuming 3 75 gram servings of vegetables a day, especially during the summer, to keep your body’s vitamin levels in check. A half cup of cooked green or orange vegetables (broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin) with each meal will do the trick!


5. Sunblock. Yes, we all know sunblock is important, but there may be a few things you weren’t aware of.

• Yes, you really do need an SPF 30 or higher. SPFs 2-4 are useless and should be avoided.

• For total protection, look for "broad spectrum" on the label.

• Although fair-skinned people are more susceptible to sun damage (especially those with red hair or freckles), darker skin tones also need to cover up.

• There is no such thing as waterproof or sweat-proof sunscreen.

• Reapply every 2 hours.

• Keep babies under six months old out of the sun.


6. Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting, light colored clothing made from breathable fabric and large brimmed hats help to shield from sun and heat.


7. Wear sunglasses. Make sure your stylish shades provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.


8. Keep your dogs safe. Dogs make great companions on beaches, in parks and on hiking trails. Although you may be able to tell they are warm when they pant, they are incapable of vocalizing if they are experiencing heat stroke.

• Bring an extra bottle of water, thermos with a cup or a specialty dog water bottle. I personally like the KONG H2O Stainless Steel Dog Water Bottle available from Chewy.

• Refrain from hiking with your dog during summer months in exceptionally hot climates. States like Arizona have recently banned taking dogs on trails during summer due to a high fatality rate.

• This shouldn’t have to be said, but never leave your dog in the car. The interior of your vehicle (especially darker colored ones) can reach up to 30 degrees higher in temperature.