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Preventing Heat Exhaustion: Dr. Starbuck Explains

Kids playing in the sand.

Hi! I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician. I’m here today with health tips on heat exhaustion.

Temperatures are heating up! When temperatures are in the high 80's, the 90's and even over 100, kids and adults can easily get sick from the heat. But there really is no need to worry. If you take care of yourself with my few simple tips, you can avoid heat exhaustion and enjoy the hot weather.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two things that happen when you get too hot. Heat stroke is much more serious, a person with heat stroke has to go to the hospital.

Kids hardly get heat stroke because adults are watching out and don’t let kids get that hot. But kids can get heat exhaustion. That happens when you spend a lot of time in the sun and don’t drink enough fluids.

We call it heat exhaustion because the first thing you feel is tired and weak, like you are exhausted. Then you get sick to your stomach and feel like you might throw up. Your head gets fuzzy and you think you might pass out. Funnily enough, you might not even feel that hot, even though you are sweating and feeling ill from too much sun.

If you think you have heat exhaustion there are several things you must do right away. First, tell an adult that you don’t feel well and ask them to help you. Second, get into the shade. Sit down, bend your knees and put your head between your legs. If you have any water, pour some of it on the top of your head and the back of your neck. Drink water too, in small sips every few minutes, until you feel better.

When you have heat exhaustion, not only are you low on water, you are also low on salt. Salt goes out of the body when we sweat. If you don’t have enough salt, you get weak and can faint. If you think you have heat exhaustion, eat something salty if you can. Salty foods are nuts, ham, cheese, celery and tomatoes. You can also eat chips or pretzels, even though they aren’t good for you, in order to get salt when you need it.

It’s much better to prevent heat exhaustion than to get it. And it’s pretty darn easy to prevent heat exhaustion with a few simple steps.

When it’s over 85 degrees outside, don’t stay in sun for a long time. When you are in the sun, take a break every hour and rest in the shade for 10 minutes.

Drink lots of water. That means at least half your body weight in ounces of water, and more whenever you can.

Eat or drink electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that your body uses to keep everything running smoothly. Things like sodium (which is salt), potassium, magnesium and calcium. A wonderful electrolyte drink is V8 juice. It’s tomato juice with veggies in it. Other good electrolytes come in tomato soup, tomato sauce, salads and fruit. Avoid candy and sweet drinks when it’s hot. Eat as many raw vegetables as you can. You can also have electrolyte drinks like Gatorade or Power aid, but I don’t like them because they have a lot of sugar and dyes. The plastic bottles they come in add to pollution and make a lot of garbage.

This summer, prevent heat exhaustion with these simple steps and remember what to do if someone near you gets over heated.

I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck and I’m wishing you well.