My huskies are my favorite cardio companions. We love to go for long, fast walks, up and down the hills where I live. I’ve never had dogs in my life before, let alone known any huskies so I’ve been fascinated by how their coats change according to the season. In the winter, when it was consistently cool, they started growing very thick fur, which did a marvelous job keeping them warm (and their skin dry) during our trips to the mountain snow.
When it started getting warmer during the day, out came the thick fur, leaving them with a much less dense coat.
Humans don’t have that kind of natural protection from the elements. We have to take precautions to stay safe when we exercise outdoors in both the winter months and in the hot summer months. Heat related illnesses are a serious issue this time of year. The following is a good reminder of what to look for and how to react if you or someone else starts to suffer ill effects from the heat.
(The following was taken from “Hot Weather Exercise Tips” posted by the Texas Heart Institute)
Heat-related illnesses occur when the body is unable to cool itself properly. Sweating is the body’s first method of cooling, but, in some cases, that cannot lower the body’s temperature enough. Illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are usually preventable, but many people still die of them every year.
Heat exhaustion develops in people who are exposed to high temperatures and who do not drink enough fluids. People who are especially at risk for heat exhaustion are the elderly, children, people with high blood pressure, and those who work or exercise in hot environments. During heat exhaustion, the body is able to maintain a normal temperature for a while, but only at the expense of other body functions. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. In athletes, heat exhaustion results in sudden decreased performance and exhaustion.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include
Dry tongue and thirst
Nausea or vomiting
People who experience these symptoms or those who have heart problems need to see a doctor immediately. If someone is developing heat exhaustion, you should move him or her out of the sun right away and into a cool place. Remove any extra layers of clothing and give the person water or a sports drink to replenish the body’s lost fluids. If the person does not feel better after an hour, seek medical attention.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. It is unlikely that conditioned athletes will develop heat stroke, but young children, elderly people, chronically ill patients, and even pets may easily get heat stroke. Heat stroke is a severe form of hyperthermia (very high body temperature) and requires medical treatment right away. Because the body’s cooling system has been overwhelmed by heat and dehydration, the body temperature may rise to 103°F or higher. If a person does not get treatment right away, heat stroke can lead to permanent damage to the body’s organs, including the brain. In some cases, people who do not get help right away can die.
Some signs and symptoms of heat stroke include
Body temperature of 103˚F or higher
Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating)
If you think that someone is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 right away. While waiting for an ambulance, try to cool the person by moving him or her out of the sun and into a cool place. Attempt to cool the person by any available method, such as covering them with a wet sheet, applying ice packs, or placing them in a cool tub of water. If possible, offer the person water to drink.