Tuesday 30 Sep 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Enjoy the day and light up the night while celebrating the nation’s birthday

Published: 9:15 am CDT, July 3, 2014

It’s America’s birthday. Time to revel in Old Glory, fireworks and hot, muggy weather. To soak up all the excitement — or alternatively get away from it all – follow this advice and spend the holiday weekend happy.

Bottom’s up: Water bottles, that is. Stay hydrated before, during and after physical activity — even if it’s in the pool or lake. Add flavor to an icy pitcher of water with slices of melon, oranges, berries, cucumber.  Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to dehydration.

Don’t be red or you’ll be blue. Protect yourself from painful sunburns. Wear wide-brimmed hats. Use water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply it every two hours.

Beat the heat. Avoid intense outside activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest.

Be cool. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics and clothing designed to block the sun’s harmful rays. Swim shirts can cover and protect the skin and sunglasses will protect your peepers.

Head inside. When the heat gets unbearable, try indoor air-conditioned activities at local recreation centers. Or head to an indoor ice skating rink.

Be a lifeguard. Keep a watchful eye on children, especially during crowded gatherings. Learn CPR in case of drowning.  Children can slip into the water quietly and drown in just a few minutes.

Special care for heart patients and others. Heart patients, people over 50 or those who are overweight should check with their doctor or other healthcare provider before exercising in the heat. Heart medications like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics can exaggerate the body’s response to heat.

Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These are serious medical emergencies that require treatment. Both can cause headaches, nausea or vomiting. Heat stroke can also cause a high fever, warm skin with no sweating and confusion or unconsciousness.  Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone has signs of heat stroke.