Staying hydrated the key to staying cool

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Although summer has not officially arrived, it certainly feels like it with temperatures reaching into the mid-90s. And it’s not likely to drop.
There are ways to stay cool as the temperature is sure to rise.
Dr. Meredith Bowen suggests the best way to stay cool is to stay hydrated.
Bowen is a family medicine doctor at Rowan Family Physicians South in China Grove.
She recommends replacing the fluid lost through sweat with water or a sports drink such as Gatorade.
Sodas, iced coffee or sweet tea, essentially anything with caffeine, acts a diuretic and causes a person to lose fluid, Bowen said.
Athletes who play outdoors are cautioned to take extra care to stay hydrated and take frequent water breaks.
“It would be better if you schedule activities earlier or later in the day,” she said.
Bowen said it makes a difference for children who play outdoor sports to acclimate them to the heat.
“For teens it takes up to four days to acclimate and younger kids up to two weeks,” she said.
Bowen also suggested finding a shady place to escape from the heat.
People who find themselves outdoors should also wear light colored and loose-fitting clothing, she said.
Some jobs require people to work much of the day in the heat. Bowen warns them to look for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
There is a difference, she said. If a person has a headache, is weak, nauseous, dizzy and severely thirsty, they may be experiencing heat exhaustion.
“At that point they need to go into a cool environment and take as much excess clothing off as possible,” she said.
They should also replace the lost electrolytes with a sports drink or water. Electrolytes, such as sodium or potassium, are what move water and fluid within the body.
But if someone starts having signs of altered mental status such as confusion and slurred speech, Bowen said they should consult a physician, because they are likely experiencing heat stroke.
Emergency personnel also take precautions during extreme heat, said Frank Thomason, emergency management division coordinator.
“As part of our training certainly during hot days all the responders work to stay hydrated,” he said.
Responders, including EMS, rescue squad and firefighters are fully aware and take those preparations at the incident scenes especially ones that involve more physical exertion, Thomason said.
“They rest frequently and get proper hydration. On the fire scene we are rotating crews out more frequently,” he said.
Thomason also advised people who must be outdoors during the heat of the day to take frequent breaks if they’ve overexerted themselves.
“If so stop and rest, make sure to lower that core body temperature a bit,” he said.
For more information about how to take precaution during extreme heat, go to www.readyrowan.org.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.
Some cool places
Run out of places to escape the heat? Here are few more:
Dan Nicholas Park, splash pad
Ice cream shops
Movies
Library
Mall
Bowling alley
High Rock Lake
RiverPark also known as the Bull Hole, Cooleemee
Sprinklers
Neighborhood pool
Tell us your favorite place to cool off at www.salisburypost.com.
Project Fan — Heat Relief
Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is sponsoring Project Fan — Heat Relief.
The center has received an allocation of funds from Duke Energy that went to the purchase of fans for seniors who may have health risks associated with the intense heat of summer.
To be eligible
• The person receiving the fan must be at least 60.
• He or she must be a resident of Rowan County.
• The person must have a discernible need for a fan, such as no air condition or needs supplemental movement of air.
• The senior should not have received a fan through this program the previous year.
Eligible seniors may call to reserve a fan, which can be picked up at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.
The person must provide the name, address, phone number, age and date of birth for the person receiving the fan.
The summer fan program runs from June to August.
For more information contact Rufty-Holmes Senior Center at 704-216-7700.



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