AP NEWS

Houston weather: Learn to beat the heat, sun

May 17, 2019

Houston is well-known for being a hot city in spring/summer/fall, and each year thousands of people are affected by heat stroke, dehydration, and other heat-related conditions. By taking some simple precautions, you can stay safe and healthy in the Bayou City.

The heat isn’t the only thing to watch for, though. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone protect their skin by wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen can help protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, and skin cancer. Check the level of the sun protection factor (SPF) on the sunscreen product to make sure it is adequate for your needs. Reapply as needed.

Also, use a lip balm with SPF protection that will block out the sun and lock in moisture for your lips.

What to wear

The way you dress for heat and sun exposure can keep you comfortable and cool. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting cotton clothing that allows for the evaporation of perspiration. Cotton is breathable and can help keep you cool. Avoid dark clothing, which absorbs more heat.

Of course good sunglasses prevent harmful UV rays from hurting your eyes. The World Health Organization reports that about 900,000 people worldwide are blind because of cataracts triggered by UV exposure.

Wear a wide-brimmed, loose-fitting hat while gardening, fishing or walking. It will allow for ventilation and helps prevent sunburn and heat-related problems.

Heat exhaustion

Too much sun can be dangerous. Excessive heat exposure can cause dehydration, which can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke (also known as sun stroke). Symptoms are shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue, among others. Treatment includes getting out of the heat and resting in a cool place. Take a cool shower or bath or apply cool wash cloths to your skin. Seek emergency medical help if these fail to work.

To protect yourself, it’s best to avoid peak hours of sunlight, which are normally between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Also, take breaks throughout the day in either an air-conditioned environment or somewhere where there is at least a large fan.

Staying hydrated

Water is the one nutrient we can’t survive without for more than a few days. Severe hydration has serious health consequences, but even mild dehydration may be damaging.

Research shows that losing just 2% of your normal, well-hydrated body weight can contribute to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and confusion.

Staying hydrated has advantages, such as helping you maintain your energy and focus so you can operate more efficiently. It is essential for maintaining blood circulation throughout your body. Also, water carries heat away from your internal organs before serious damage occurs, which can lead to death.

To prevent dehydration, during and after outdoor activities, drink plenty of water and electrolyte-replacement beverages. Avoid beverages or food sources with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can result in the loss of body fluid.