Southwest Summer Safety Tips: Avoiding Heat Stroke

From March to September, people living in the Southwestern U.S. love to explore nature and be outside. Whether it’s enjoying state parks or just hanging out in your neighborhood, summer fun in the Southwest is all about being active outside.

But summer heat is dangerous. At Rico Aviation, we’ve taken air ambulance calls from too many hikers who suffered heat stroke and dehydration. To better protect the people we serve, we wanted to give everyone some safety tips for preventing heat stroke.

How to Avoid Heat Stroke

Always stay hydrated.

You should drink eight glasses of water every day no matter what. When it comes to summer fun days, you’ll need to hydrate much more regularly. Drink 24 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise. During exercise, you should consume another 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration can have annoying symptoms like dizziness and headaches, but it can also have more severe consequences. It can also cause fainting, which may lead to injury. In extreme cases, dehydration kills. For mild dehydration, fluid intake should correct symptoms. But,  if someone is so dehydrated that they are experiencing lethargy, headaches, confusion, difficulty breathing or if they faint, you need to seek emergency medical treatment.

The shade is safest.

The sun’s rays are most active between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., so those are great times to be extra vigilant about using sunscreen and about finding shade. Remember: if your shadow is shorter than you, find shade. Seeking shade is one of the simplest, and most overlooked, aspects of sun safety. Part of finding shade also means frequently resting whenever playing outdoors. Don’t overdo it!

Purchase strong sunscreen.

Every sunscreen you purchase should be at least SPF 30, broad spectrum and water resistant. While lesser sunscreens may prevent apparent burns, they will not stop skin cancer. The SPF 30 rule also applies to chapstick and lip balms. Most skin care experts insist that sunscreen be at least SPF 30, but what about higher SPF products? The general consensus is that there’s no need to go above SPF 50 because, after that, the benefits are negligible. In Europe, SPF 50 is actually the cap on all sunscreen products.

Sunscreen needs frequent application.

According to Cancer.net, you should apply sunscreen every two hours. If you are swimming or sweating, you should reapply every hour. Your skin needs protection all day, so it isn’t enough to apply it once and forget about it.

Protect your eyes from the sun.

A good pair of sunglasses is a worthy investment for the health of your eyes. All sunglasses you wear should have a 99% or 100% UV absorption. Always keep a pair in your car and then another in your daily purse, backpack or bag. UV exposure is actually a risk factor for many vision problems, including cataracts, blindness, and astigmatism. Wearing sunglasses will keep your eyes healthier, for longer.

Wear protective clothing.

While we all love tank tops, your skin doesn’t! Anytime you can wear sleeves and cover your legs, you should. Your skin will be grateful. There are some types of fabrics that have UV protection factor (UPF) which can add additional protection for your skin.

Sun isn’t fun for babies.

Babies younger than six months old should avoid any sun exposure. Cover babies entirely in protective clothing and make sure they are always in the shade. Baby hats and sunglasses are not only safe and prudent but also really adorable. If you must take your baby to an outdoor event, bring some type of shaded tent or carrier for them, and also make sure they are dressed appropriately.  

How To Detect A Heat Stroke

If someone has a core body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, they are suffering a heat stroke. But, if you don’t have a thermometer on you, here is a list of symptoms that could indicate heat stroke. If you believe you or someone with you is having a heat stroke, seek emergency medical treatment right away, call 9-1-1 or call for an air ambulance 1-844-RICO-911. If you are heading out for a hike remember to download our Rico Rapid Response App

  • fainting
  • A throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

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