You have bad timing
TCreativeMedia/Shutterstock If you want to avoid signs of heat stroke, don’t head outside during the hottest hours of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. According to the Sun Safety Alliance, the sun is at its most intense when its highest in the sky. Smith recommends paying attention to the heat index, which is a measurement of how hot you’ll feel from the combination of humidity and air temperature. “If the humidity is above 60 percent, your body’s ability to cool off through sweat evaporation is hindered,” he explains. “In this situation, your risk of overheating increases, so you should take extra precautions. When the heat index is 90 or above, the risk rises significantly. So during a summer heat wave, pay attention to the heat index and avoid direct sunshine, which can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.”
You’re battling a health condition
Savicic/Shutterstock Health conditions that increase the risk of heat-related illness include heart, lung, or kidney disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, says Smith. Additionally, groups of people who are at highest risk are adults over 65 and infants and children under the age of four, because they adjust to heat more slowly. Certain common medications can also increase the risk, says family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Jennifer Caudle, DO. These include beta blockers and calcium channel blockers (common heart meds), diuretics or “water pills,” some psychiatric meds, diet pills and antibiotics. Illegal drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and mushrooms can also increase the risk of heat-related illness. “People should be aware of medicines that can reduce the body’s ability to cool itself,” says Vijay Jotwani, MD, Houston Methodist primary care sports medicine physician. “Those include antihistamines which many people take for allergies.” Plus, find out the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
You don’t know about HEAT
Werayuth Tes/Shutterstock Could you recognize signs of heat stroke in yourself or someone else? Knowing when to seek medical help is crucial, which is why Raukar recommends remembering the following acronym: HEAT: High temps; Exercise (or activity); Acting confused; Time to call 911. Make sure to monitor the victim closely while taking steps to bring the body’s internal core temperature down: Move to a cooler location, sip water, loosen clothing to allow the heat to escape from the body, and apply cool, wet clothes to as much of the skin as possible. Learn how to spot dangerous signs that you’re overheating and what to do about it.