Reported by SCRN’s Susan Trautsch and Joanne Lu
Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people still succumb to the extreme heat.
With high temperatures headlining the news, it’s important that people do what they can to stay cool. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
Curt Ackerman, a certified athletic trainer, tells us that high humidity makes it difficult for our bodies to cool itself normally.
The number one thing that people need to realize is in this kind of heat, with such humidity, you lose so much water. And the mechanism by which people’s bodies cool themselves and regulate their system is primarily through evaporation. We sweat, and then air comes along, and the perspiration will evaporate off of your skin and it carries away heat.
But the high humidity slows the rate of evaporation, hindering the cooling process.
The problem is that we continue to sweat, because that’s the way your body is trained. Your body says, “Listen, I’m hot, I’ll sweat, it’ll evaporate and I will cool.” However, with such high heat and high humidity , your body says, “OK, well I’m gonna sweat.” But, guess what, you never cool down as much.
While the body continues to sweat without cooling, it is losing large amounts of water and salt.
If they don’t have blood pressure problems or some other underlying issues, some people will introduce a little more salt into their diet. And you see certain drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. Their claim to fame is they replenish electrolytes–things like sodium is what they’re talking about. But, good old water is just as good as anything else in this world.
Light, breathable clothing will also allow sweat to evaporate, cooling the body.
Ackerman warns that even young, healthy individuals are susceptible to the heat, though some do better than others depending on how acclimated they are to the weather.
The bottom line is, according to Ackerman, knowing one’s limits and staying hydrated. Especially with the humidity, “somebody could really get into trouble really quick if they’re not paying attention.”