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Physicians from the Department of Emergency Medicine at BWH offer these tips on preventing heat-related illnesses that occur during scorching days when the body heats up faster than it can cool down.
R Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Thirst is a late indication that your body is already low on fluids. To aid absorption, frequently drink small amounts of water or a low-sugar sports beverage (about 8 ounces per hour) instead of large, sporadic amounts.
R Avoid dehydrating drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar.
R Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and put on sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Wear a hat and shade yourself with an umbrella, if possible.
R Do not take salt tablets, which do not replace water loss and can increase blood pressure, irritate the stomach and seriously affect people with a history of heart disease.
R Remain indoors during the hottest hours of the day (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.). Try to limit strenuous outdoor activities and physical exercise to morning and evening hours.
R Take special care to check on individuals who may be at greater risk for heat-related illnesses: children, senior citizens and people who have a mental illness or are physically ill, especially those who suffer from obesity, heart disease or high blood pressure. Patients on medications for psychiatric illness or hypertension may be at particular risk for hyperthermia.