SOS Blog

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Summer Safety Tips for Heat

Summer's in full swing, and that can only mean one thing: More arising opportunities for injuries and accidents. Ok, so it's not all gloom and doom, but what better way to transition into any season than with the complete peace of mind that only proper preparation can bring?
Being properly prepared can't stop every disaster in its tracks, however, understanding your risks and being prepared with the right equipment, knowledge and a game plan can mean the difference between fun and fiasco.
Because summer comes but once a year, it can be easy to forget proper summer safety. Last year, you swore you'd start applying sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outside and that you'd reschedule your evening runs for the morning, but as summer turned to fall and fall to winter, your summer safety skills naturally waned. Worry not. In today's post, we'll be talking about one of the most common summer-related dangers: heat.

Heat Safety

As temperatures begin to rise, many parts of the country are already experiencing some of the more negative effects of heat. Sun and warmth are an essential part of any summer vacation package, but when temperatures begin to creep into the 80s, 90s and beyond, it's time to exercise additional caution.
Heat is experienced differently by different people; some have a higher tolerance for it and will feel less hot while others are already wiping the sweat from their brow. However, sweating and feeling hot can oftentimes be poor indicators of heat-related risks. Regardless of how well you think you can tolerate the heat, during the summer you should always:

  • Drink more water
  • Use ice, if available
  • Use a fan or air conditioning
  • Avoid the outdoors between 11am and 4pm
  • Limit physical activity outside
  • Protect yourself with sunscreen
  • Wear loose clothing that can breathe
  • Wear a hat or carry an umbrella

Some people are more susceptible to heat-related dangers than others. Additionally, dogs - particularly those with dark coats and short noses - are also more prone to overheating during the summer months.
We’ll cover dogs in more detail further on.

Age is a major risk factor for heat illnesses including heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Because the central nervous system controls your body's temperature, small children and adults over the age of 65 are not capable of coping with extreme heat as well as healthy people in their 20s, 30s or 40s.

Your body's ability to cool itself depends on a variety of factors including sweating and blood vessel dilation. If you take medications that act like diuretics, making it difficult to stay hydrated, or you're on blood pressure regulating medication, which can narrow your blood vessels, you will be more inclined toward developing heat illnesses.
Additionally, certain types of medicines such as antibiotics, increase your risk for developing a sunburn. Your doctor should talk to you about your medications' side effects, however, if you have concerns about the medications you're taking you should always feel comfortable about starting a conversation with your doctor.

Drugs & Alcohol
Drinking alcohol affects your body's ability to regulate your temperature and is a diuretic, which causes dehydration. Diuretics confuse your body into thinking that it needs to get rid of excess water to restore the balance in and around your cells. Because of this, you'll urinate more frequently. However, because your body isn't actually storing any excess water, you'll end up becoming dehydrated, which is particularly dangerous in the summer when you're also sweating.

Dehydration is a loss of fluid and an upset in electrolyte balance. If you've consumed alcohol, energy drinks or coffee, or you're dehydrated from exercise and sweating, it's vital that you don't just replace fluids in large quantities. Consuming plain water may result in a further imbalance, which can cause complications such as fainting and irregular heartbeat.

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Drink coffee in moderation
  • Consume water regularly
    • Pair water with orange slices  and pickles for electrolyte replenishment
Electrolytes consist of potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Here are some additional natural sources to help replenish your electrolytes safely and effectively:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cashews
  • Collard Greens
  • Dried Fruit
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Melon
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tofu

What Are Heat-Related Illnesses?

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the result of overheating, which can be caused by any of the factors we already discussed above. Anyone can be prone to overheating, so it's important to take proper precautions to help prevent heat exhaustion.

The early warning signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache
  • Dark urine
  • Thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Increased pulse
  • Muscle cramping
  • Stomach upset

Heat exhaustion is a dangerous condition because it can quickly evolve into heatstroke, which is life-threatening. Preventing heat is particularly important in people who are already at risk for developing heat-related illnesses.


Heatstroke is defined by a core body temperature of 104 F or more. If left untreated, heatstroke is life-threatening, damaging the brain and other vital organs including the heart and kidneys.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Lack of sweating
  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Unconsciousness

If you suspect heatstroke, take action immediately!

  • Move the affected person inside
  • Remove any excess clothing
  • Cool the person with whatever means available
  • A fan
  • Water
  • Ice
The head, neck, armpits and groin are the most effective and critical parts of the body to focus on when applying cold. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Pet Safety

We aren't the only ones at risk for heat-related illnesses. Our furry companions, while they might seem more robust, are just as susceptible to suffering from overheating. Additionally, dogs can also easily experience burns, both from sun exposure and from hot pavement. Help your dog stay safe this summer by understanding the risks and learning about prevention.


Dogs "sweat" by panting, but because panting is limited to a smaller surface area, this method of staying cool is actually significantly less effective than our ability to full-body sweat.
This means dogs are in fact more susceptible to heat-related illness, and certain breeds should additionally be treated with more care. These include large breeds, long-haired and dark breeds, and breeds with short noses.


Dogs have feet that are padded with lots of fat similar to whale blubber, which provides when with excellent insulation for trekking through snow. However, dogs' feet aren't immune to injury. Extreme heat, sharp objects and even snow can cause damage to your pooch's pads, and summer sets a perfect stage for mishaps.

While you may not reside in a particularly hot climate, remember that heat builds up and rises over time. On asphalt and concrete, heat can accumulate enough to fry an egg on a hot and sunny day. While the pads of your dog's foot can protect him from rocky terrain and some temperature extremes, his skin isn't burn resistant.

  • Touch concrete for five seconds
    • If it's too hot to comfortably touch, it's too hot to walk on
  • Apply sunscreen to white dogs and those with thin hair

In a car, the dangers of heat buildup are even more severe. Even on a temperate day when temperatures only reach the 60s or 70s, a car parked in the sun can quickly become a deadly trap. Because of this, it's critical to never leave your dog in a parked car, even for just a short while.


Heat is dangerous because like a lot of nature's furies, people simply tend to underestimate it. Don't underestimate the seriousness of being trapped in hot conditions or running out of water. Protect yourself and your loved ones by acting on the side of caution, preparing yourself for emergencies and learning emergency procedures.
We offer a wide range of training classes at our Van Nuys location. Check out our schedule to learn more about CPR, first aid, wilderness survival and more.


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