When the warm weather arrives, many of us can’t wait to get out and have fun in the sun. But as good as the sun’s rays feel on our face, too much sun – and time in the heat – can lead to some dangers to your health.
The most serious heat-related condition is heat stroke. This is when your body loses control over temperature regulation. Your body stops being able to sweat and its temperature rises to life-threatening levels. You can also experience muscle spasms, appear disoriented and have seizures.
If you suspect someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately and try to cool them off by helping them move out of the heat immediately, placing wet towels or ice packs on their neck, and fanning their skin. If they are responsive, provide them with hydrating liquids to drink. If they become unresponsive, perform CPR until paramedics arrive.
Other heat-related illnesses include heat rash and heat edema. Heat rash presents as itchy red spots on your skin. Wear moisture-wicking clothes to help prevent it, and shower to ease the itch. Heat edema is the swelling of your hands or feet from standing in the heat for long periods of time. Find a cool place where you can rest with your legs elevated.
As many of us tend to participate in more outdoor activities during the warmer months, it is important to protect yourself by always using or wearing the safety equipment recommended for the sport or activity you’re participating in – even in the heat.
Take proper advantage of breaks, half-time or intermission, and remove your equipment while you rest. Take extra breaks when you need to. To cope with extreme heat, many soccer leagues have adopted water breaks midway through each half.
To protect your muscles from injury, stretch before and after you participate. And make sure you have plenty of water or sports drinks on hand to keep you hydrated while you’re active.
Seek shelter from the sun
As much as we love being out in the sun, you can have too much of a good thing. Sunburn can not only lead to painful blisters and an annoying itch while your skin heals, frequent burns can also cause premature aging of your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
If you’re going to be in the sun, apply sunscreen wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you’re doing a physical activity where you’re sweating – or swimming – reapply sunblock regularly. If you feel weak or nauseous, find a cool place where you can rest and drink non-caffeinated, hydrating drinks.
Find more information on staying safe in the sun at canada.ca/health