It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here (Out Thurr?)Posted: May 27, 2010
Are you sure it’s only May? Because – now correct me if I’m wrong – aren’t June, July, and August supposed to be warmer than May? I’m not so sure it can get much hotter! Friends tease me that I’m a hothouse plant because I love being in the sun, but even I can only take so much!
When the weather gets this hot, it’s no surprise that it brings some major of risks.
At work yesterday, one of our kindergarteners came in from the playground and proceeded to throw up in the water fountain. His teacher sat him on a backless chair and left him with me while she went to call his mother to come pick him up; as he was sitting there, his eyes started rolling back in his head and his head kept dropping to his shoulders.
I was terrified that he was going to fall off the chair and whack his head on the floor, so I pulled up a nap mat and laid him down on it. The second my hands left his body he was out cold. As the staff tried to engage him, he wasn’t responsive, so we dialed 911.
Thankfully, while I was on the line with the operator, our on-site medical tech was able to wake him up with some cold compresses. To be on the safe side, we sent him to the hospital for an official once-over; his parents later called to update the staff: he’d gotten heat stroke.
To a degree, you get used to living in a climate where certain temperatures are the norm. You commiserate with your neighbors as you wipe the sweat off your face (and neck, and legs, and EVERY FRACKIN’ CREASE OF YOUR BODY) and make jokes about how your hair looked great until you went outside and the humidity killed it. Thing is, it’s not such a joking matter.
Our risk factor in Florida lately handily falls into the “Caution” level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it tipped over into “Danger” within the next few weeks. Even though I work out in the early evenings, the temps are easily clearing 85-90 degrees AFTER the sun starts to go down! Combine that with Florida’s darling humidity and it’s like running through a big ol’ bowl of soup.
Outdoor athletes are particularly at-risk for exertional heat stroke (translation: too much bodily stress, too little fluid) because of elevated stress on the heart and lungs. As your blood works to fuel these organs, it is taken away from the muscles. As your temperature rises, so does your heart rate – both far more quickly than your body is designed to safely handle. Your natural cooling systems eventually give out, and you’re essentially S.O.L. until your body is cooled down through external methods.
Avoiding heat stroke is definitely preventable, though, and through fairly simple methods.
– Drink like a friggin fish. This has got to be the single most important and also the most doable tip there this. Even if you’re already a big water drinker, make sure to bookend your workouts with some extra fluids: two to three hours before and after your workout, double your intake; bonus points if you incorporate a Camelbak (or for my snazzy, overachieving, ultra-hi-tech readers, carry a water bottle). Also consider downing a sports drink to stabilize electrolytes as well as replenish vitamins you’ll lose through sweat, and further reduce intake of counterproductive, dehydrating liquids like coffee and happy juice alcohol. Not sure if you’re getting enough fluid? Check the pee. Yes, seriously. If it’s clear, you’re in the clear.
– Mind your internal temperature. Its hard to take the focus away from the external temperature when it seems like you’re on your way to becoming a human french fry, but when you’re exposed to strong heat for prolonged periods of time, make heading indoors at regular intervals a priority. Become very close friends with your fan, your air conditioner, and your pool (or that cute, single neighbor who just so happens to have a pool!)
– Plan around “peak hours”. The sun is at it’s strongest when it is directly overhead. Sources conflict about whether these hours are between 10-2 or 11-4, but either way, minimize outdoor activity in the late morning and mid afternoon. If it’s possible, shoot for early morning or later evening workouts.
– Lighten up. Your clothes, that is. Okay okay, so maybe Nelly was on the right track after all. You don’t need to take the clothing off, but choosing lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton and loose, non-restrictive styles win you major points in the comfort department. Fashionista my ass when you’re just going to sweat through it anyways.
– Be aware. Know your body. The same rule that you work out by applies anytime you’re exposed to extreme weather, even if you’re not working out: when something feels “off”, dial it back a bit. Also, know the risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of heat stroke include “rapid heartbeat; rapid or shallow breathing; elevated or lowered blood pressure; cessation of sweating; irritability, confusion, or unconsciousness; feeling dizzy or lightheaded; headache; nausea; and fainting”. The Mayo Clinic also provides some excellent guidelines regarding steps to take if you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke. “Move the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned space; call 911 or emergency medical help; cool the person by covering him or her with damp sheets or by spraying with cool water; direct air onto the person with a fan or newspaper; have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine, if he or she is able.”
Stay safe, you guys!
(P.S. – Those plums of mine found their way into a Pond Sludge creation that Rocks. My. World. The next post may or may not be eighty millions pictures of the eighty million glasses of it that I plan on ingesting in the near future…all in the name of hydration, of course…)