Avera Medical Minute AQoP: Staying safe in the summer heat; hydrate and take frequent breaks

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We’ve already seen temperatures well into the 90’s this summer. For those who aren’t use to it, the heat can be dangerous.

“Well, there’s not a typical day. The weather always dictates what you do,” said Mike Bills, groundskeeper at Avera McKennan.

Bills covers a lot of ground. However, when the sun is shining and temps are soaring, Bills’ health comes first.

“We have breaks during the day. We always put protective sunscreen on in the morning right away before you go out. We wear the hats, we do all that,” said Bills.

“A 15-minute break will do your body wonders, just to cool your body off,” said Dr. Scott VanKeulen, emergency medicine medical director at Avera Queen of Peace.

Dr. VanKeulen says if you are out in the sun, make sure you’re drinking lots of water and staying hydrated.

“What ends up happening is on these hot and humid environments, with that high humidity, our bodies can’t dissipate that heat. We usually sweat to get rid of it, but when we’re so sweaty from all the humidity, we’re not allowed to actually dissipate that heat so it ends up staying in our body and we have to breathe it off. And then we’re still working and doing things to kind of produce heat but we’re not getting rid of the heat, and that’s a dangerous combination, that’s when you start feeling weak and light-headed and nauseous. But when you start having vomiting and diarrhea and muscle cramps, you really need to stop so you don’t progress into the other part. When you get the mild things, take action then. Once you get to that middle stage, you often feel poorly for awhile and sometimes you actually have to get IV fluids just to kind of get caught up,” said Dr. VanKeulen.

Bills takes the heat seriously. In his 31 years as a groundskeeper, he’s learned to listen to his body and not push it when it’s hot outside.

“If it gets hot, you just plan in the morning to do the things you need to get done like mowing, things that are a little more effort in the sun. You just kind of plan on doing that before it gets hot out,” said Bills.

Dr. VanKeulen says if you start hydrating before you even step outside, it will help your body produce sweat.

“That sweat is a great way of dissipating the heat but if you’re dry already, you’re not going to produce as much sweat. So then you’re going to get behind the eight ball and then you’re trying to drink. If you start to see the symptoms, you gotta stop. And the biggest thing is go at it slowly, take lots of water, frequent breaks in cool environments and usually you keep yourself out of the danger zone,” said Dr. VanKeulen.

For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.