Outlasting the summer: tips on heat stress Published Aug. 19, 2014 By Airman 1st Class Sierra Mack 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- It's summertime, the season of cookouts, swimming pools and outdoor fun. Along with these activities come the dangers of extreme heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat causes an average of 658 deaths annually in the United States, which is more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined. Heat exposure can lead to heat-related injuries or illnesses if someone is unable to cool down properly. Some examples of heat-related injuries and illnesses include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. The populations most susceptible to problems from heat exposure are people 65 years old or older, those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, outdoor workers, children, and athletes. However, it is naïve to assume those who do not fit into these groups are safe. There are several ways to avoid becoming a victim of heat stress this summer. First, be aware of the common signs and symptoms associated with heat stress. These include profuse sweating, chills, weakness, fainting, confusion, dizziness, elevated body temperature and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention. Second, stay informed by checking the local weather throughout the day for updates, and plan events and activities before or after extremely hot periods. Third, stay hydrated. Do not wait until you're thirsty to drink fluids. Drink two to four cups of water every hour and avoid drinks with alcohol or high sugar content. Last, but not least, stay cool by remaining in air conditioned buildings during the hottest periods of the day, avoid direct sunlight, wear light weight or light colored clothing, and take cool showers or baths. Let's be vigilant wingmen for our fellow Airmen, family and friends. Enjoy this summer season but remember the dangers of prolonged exposure to hot weather. Protect your health and the health of others by knowing and using the proper precautionary measures. To find out more about heat stress, visit www.cdc.gov. If you have any questions, please contact the Public Health office at (316)-759-5167.