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Beat the heat

How to avoid sunstroke this summer.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

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Don't let dehydration, heat exhaustion or heatstroke put you on the losing team.

Simple measures like removing restrictive clothing, spraying cold water on the body, and using ice packs are great ways to cool down quickly, especially at home, according to Heidi Ashbaugh, MD, an emergency medical specialist with Emergency Resources Group who practices at the Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville Emergency Department.

Tips for playing or working in the heat

Dr. Ashbaugh offered some advice for keeping your cool when temperatures rise:

  • Drink water before and during outdoor exercise. Staying hydrated will help you maintain a normal body temperature. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

  • Wear loose and lightweight clothing. Tight clothes will increase your body temperature and could restrict circulation.

  • Protect against sunburn. If you're sunburned, your body isn't able to adequately regulate your temperature. So slather on the sunscreen and don't forget the hat and sunglasses.

  • Build up a tolerance. If you're not accustomed to being in the heat, start with 10- or 15-minute sessions until you start to feel more comfortable.

  • Avoid the hottest parts of the day. Try to stay inside between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun's rays are the strongest.

  • Take frequent breaks. Stand in the shade, grab a drink and cool down regularly.

  • Check for drug interactions. Certain medications can compromise your body's ability to cool itself down. Read up on your meds to find out. This is especially important for older adults.

Recognizing sunstroke symptoms

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you've been exposed to high temperatures and is often accompanied by dehydration. Symptoms include:

  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine (signals dehydration)
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pale skin

"When it comes to heat-related illnesses, the most severe is heatstroke, which can affect almost every organ in the body," Dr. Ashbaugh said.

If you're experiencing vomiting, seizures or unconsciousness, call 911 or go to your closest emergency room.

"Once there, we can help quickly stabilize and treat those suffering from heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses," Dr. Ashbaugh added.

Worried about heatstroke or heat exhaustion?

We hope your summer is emergency-free, but if you need help right away, Baptist Health has emergency centers located throughout Northeast Florida, including a NEW location in St. Augustine, to provide care when you need it most.

Locations and current wait times

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