Summertime is time to think about preventing dehydration and heat-related illness. Did you know that about 318 Americans die every year of heat-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control? The sad fact is that most of these deaths could have been prevented, had the victims understood the realities of dehydration and heat-related illness more clearly.
Regularly exercising, which is often done outdoors, is just as important during the hot months of summer as it is during the cooler seasons.
Unfortunately, outdoor activities often place people at a more serious risk of dehydration, which can lead to other heat-related illnesses including, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and in severe cases, death. Millions of Americans are at risk for heat-related illnesses, but the risk is significantly increased for four segments of our population. Those most at risk include:
Children – When summer vacation from school arrives, most children spend a great deal of time outdoors being active. Because children have a larger surface area in relation to body mass, they often gain heat faster than adults when the outside air temperature is higher than body temperature.
Athletes and exercisers – People who spend hours training and competing in the hot summer sun often do not have an adequate intake of fluids to make up for the loss of fluids caused by their activities.
Outdoor workers – Workers such as landscapers, construction crews, police officers, postal employees and others who spend most of their days in the heat often have little time for bathroom breaks or for drinking fluids. As a result, these workers may not consume enough fluids during their workdays.
Elderly people – There is a fine line between how heat affects most adults and how it affects the elderly in more profound ways. It’s extremely important for senior citizens to practice gradual acclimatization to heat that puts an emphasis on hydration.