Stay cool, hydrated during the dog days of summer

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The dog days of summer are usually associated with August, but here in the south, hot and humid days can begin much earlier and last well into fall.

Heat waves during the summer months can have disastrous effects on human health. According to the National Weather Service, heat is one of the major causes of weather-related deaths.

How does too much heat affect the body? Our bodies work to maintain an internal temperature of 98.6 degrees. When we get overheated, our core temperature begins to rise and we may develop heat-related problems such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke (sunstroke).

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Heatstroke occurs when body temperature rises rapidly, sweating stops, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperatures of 106 degrees and above can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Unless emergency treatment occurs, the person may have permanent disabilities or may die.

Who is at risk? Anyone can develop a heat-related disorder, but older people, young children and people with chronic illnesses are especially at risk. The NWS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest avoiding heat-related illnesses by following these tips:

• Stay hydrated; drink plenty of water.

• Dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

• Eat light meals and avoid hot meals and heavy foods.

• Try to limit your outdoor activities to morning (any time before 10 a.m.)  and evening hours (any time after 4 p.m.). If you must be out at mid-day—the hottest time of day—slow down, take it easy!

• Spend more time in air-conditioned places, if you can.

• Do not leave infants, children or pets in a parked car.

• Do not get sunburned. Use sunscreen with SPF 14 and above. Avoid the mid-day sun. Rest in shady areas.

• Wear sunglasses with a UV of 100 or more to protect your eyes

By following these tips you can probably eliminate heat-related illnesses.

Resources: Fact Sheets Heat Safety Fact Sheet (OSHA publication: pdf), Skin Cancer: Protect Yourself (ACES brochure), Sun Safe (ACES brochure)

Here is a delightful recipe that’s cook and refreshing to eat. It’s called:

Tuna apple salad sandwich: makes four servings

Cook time: 15 minutes

Liven up your lunch-time sandwich with a refreshing mix of tuna, apples, raisins, and walnuts.

1 apple (such as Fuji or Pink Lady Washington)

1 can 12-oz chunk light tuna (drained)

2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup raisins (or chopped figs)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1/2 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

8 leaves lettuce (Bibb, Romaine, green, or red leaf)

8 slices whole-grain bread

1. Cut apple in quarters; remove core and chop.

2. In a medium size bowl, mix all salad ingredients, except tuna.

3. Gently fold in tuna.

4. Make sandwiches, using lettuce and whole-grain bread (toasted, if desired), and fill with tuna apple salad.