By Aileen Shen 

Did you know that heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, even more than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined?

Weather-related deaths include heat disorders such as sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which prevent the body from cooling effectively.

Don’t become another statistic.  Here are some things you can do to have a fun and safe summer:

Stay cool.

  • Dress for summer by wearing light-weight clothing.
  • Hop into a pool or go to the beach.  Click here for Boston listings.
  • Slow down and schedule strenuous activities for the coolest times of day.
  • Find air conditioning on extremely hot days.
    • Public places such as libraries, malls, and stores often have air-conditioning.

Stay hydrated.

  • Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. Water helps keep your body cool.
    • Alcohol and caffeinated drinks dehydrate.
  • Limit how many high-protein foods that you eat to reduce metabolic heat production and water loss.

Protect yourself from the sun.  (Sunburn reduces your ability to shed excess heat.)

  • Wear wide-brimmed hats
  • Wear sunscreen SPF 15 or higher

Check in on loved ones. 

  • Check on the elderly family and neighbors to ensure they are safe and healthy.
  • Make sure pets have enough fresh water and food.
    • Pets should not be left outside in the heat for too long.

If you have kids:

  • Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks, even at home, so they do not climb into unattended hot spaces.
  • Make sure your child’s safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before buckling them up.

Remember to stay cool, stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and be watchful of loved ones.  Be safe and have fun!   For more information, click here.

Aileen Shen is director of the Injury Prevention Program in the Healthy Homes and Community Supports Division. Now that the weather’s nice, she loves being outside and riding her bike… always wearing a helmet, of course!