We're in the height of camping seasons for most families. The kids are out of school, vacation time is being burnt up and many people are recreating out of doors. Here are some signs to watch for while afield to keep your cool:
Heat cramps! Cramping of major muscle groups, these spasms may manifest in your arms, legs, back or belly and can be extremely painful. They hit you at night while in a hammock and can be called "Charlie Horses". The primary reason for getting heat cramps involves electrolyte imbalances due to profuse sweating combined with excessive exertion. To treat: Get to a shady spot and loosen clothes and cool off, replenish your fluids aggressively with an electrolyte solution (Powerade, Gatorade, etc). Massage the area, arms and/or legs to increase overall circulation.
Home Made Oral Rehydration Salts:
The "Simple Solution"
Six (6) level teaspoons of Sugar.
Half (1/2) level teaspoon of Salt.
One Liter of clean drinking or boiled water and then cooled.
(each cup about 200 ml.)
Heat exhaustion! Something most have experienced, represents the next phase of worsening heat injury. It may start headache, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and peripheral tingling and cramping. In the case of heat exhaustion, core body temperature has risen to between 99 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The causes of this include dehydration, electrolyte depletion and over working in the heat. Treatment is the same as that for heat cramps but you MUST get to a cooler location (shade, AC, swimming hole) to rest and cool off.
Heat stroke! This is dangerous. Heat stroke is the next progression beyond heat exhaustion and includes an elevated temperature along with central nervous system dysfunction and, in later stages, an absence of sweating. Once sweating stops, sufferers may feel as though a "2nd wind" has come for a period before the onset of more dire symptoms such as organ damage, which can include brain damage, liver and kidney failure and blood-clotting problems. To treat: Remove your clothes, place ice in the groin and armpits (if available), immerse in cold water, and give electrolyte fluids. Give IV fluids if possible as that's the fastest means at providing rehydration. This condition should be treated as a medical emergency and the person should be taken to the hospital as soon as possible.
Acclimatize to prepare for the Heat!
Acclimatization is a natural phenomenon and occurs for most people within five days of exposure to changing weather conditions. Ninety-five percent of healthy people will be fully acclimatized within 14 days to either hot or cold. Acclimatization is lost in roughly the same period after removal from a hot or cold environment. In modern society, we have largely robbed ourselves of this natural ability, so turn off the A/C in the house and cars the first couple weeks of summer or before you go to the lake so prepare your body. You'll sweat more, lose fewer electrolytes and deal with the heat better overall.
Remember that cool water is usually the best rehydration fluid and frequent drinking is the first line of defense against heat injuries. Meals and snacks with water are important, as a steady influx of water alone without snacks containing salts or sugars can lead one to electrolyte imbalances. Soda, Beer and Wine do little to maintain hydration levels instead they increase sugar, acids and calories while serving as a diuretics. Water, water with snack, then more water!