Syracuse UniversityHealth Services

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Staying Cool

WHAT IS IT:  Your body sweats to cool itself.  As it gets warmer, your body must sweat more.  As the sweat evaporates, your body gets cooler.  If the weather is hot and humid, your sweat cannot evaporate well.  So, as the humidity goes up, your body doesn’t cool off as well.  This means your internal temperature rises.  When you cannot sweat enough to cool your body, you may get heat illness.  Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sunstroke are different heat illnesses. 

SYMPTOMS

Fatigue

Weak Muscles, cramping muscles

Dizziness, confusion

Nausea/vomiting

Headache

TREATMENT

If you have symptoms of heat illness, take off as much clothing as possible and wet yourself with cool or lukewarm water.  Drink some fluids.  Stay in the shade or air conditioning. 

WHEN TO SEEK CARE

If you become confused, lose consciousness, vomit frequently, stop sweating or stop urinating, seek care immediately!

PREVENTION

Stay in air conditioning if possible.

Drink lots of water before, during and after any outdoor activity.

Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

Increase the amount of time you spend outdoors every day little by little.

Take a lot of rest breaks while outdoors in hot weather.

Avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade when you can.

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, open-weave clothes.

Avoid activities that require you to wear a helmet.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.

NEVER leave anyone—a person or animal—in a closed, parked vehicle. This is life threatening.

Try to schedule activities or workouts early in the morning or late in the evening. Avoid heavy outdoor activity between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., when the sun is hottest.

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on infants and young children; people aged 65 or older; people who have a mental illness, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure. Individuals with chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary may find that their conditions worsen during periods of high heat and humidity.