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Posted on: June 28, 2018

Protect Yourself from Heat Stress…know what to do

Heat Stress

There's nothing like an intense Texas summer day to remind us just how susceptible our bodies can be to the excessive heat. The office of Risk Management provides you with some tools to help beat the heat, while staying active and healthy.


Eat light, small meals frequently 

  • It is recommended you eat at least 5-6 small, protein-enriched meals a day to maintain caloric intake. Calories are the "fuels of energy" for basic bodily functions (heart rate, lung and kidney activities). Avoid greasy and fatty processed foods, which make you feel sluggish. Limit your intake of red meat; try lighter options such as fish and oysters. Spicy, hot and salty food should also be avoided.
  • Ripe summer fruits that are high in fiber (melons, oranges, peaches, plums and pears) are exactly what the body craves to get thru the hot summer months. Leafy lettuce and summer greens rich in water content (celery and cucumbers) are a wonderful way to give your body an extra amount of water to help thin the blood; this has a cooling effect on the body. Tomatoes and onions are also great in the summer, because of their ability to beat the heat and provide relief from summer ailments.

Hydrate your body

  • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily. Water is a major heat stress reliever for the body. Drink fluids even if you are not thirsty. Once you feel thirsty, it actually means you have already reached the point of being dehydrated. Try a lemon and honey drink to instantly replenish lost fluids and increase energy.
  • You’re advised to avoid or greatly reduce all carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages from your summer diet. These beverages increase your metabolic demand and lead to fluid imbalance, as well as protein metabolism. During the summer, people often wrongly assume drinking extremely chilled liquids help cool a body down. This actually interferes with digestion and ability to sweat, thereby messing with the body’s natural cooling mechanisms. It can also constrict blood vessels, which reduces the ability to dispel heat through the skin and have a negative impact on your overall health.


Take it slow and know your body’s limits

  • People often don’t consider the outdoor temperature and humidity and how they affect one’s health. When the temperature hits 90 degrees or higher, don’t expect to go outside and set personal records for normal outdoor activity. Typically, our bodies are warmer than the environment. When the reverse is the case, our muscles regulate heat by releasing sweat allowing the body to cool itself. However, when the body is sweating, it’s losing fluid which can result in dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion (characterized by general fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and an increase in body temperature) is the most common side effect of overdoing summer exercise when not properly hydrated.
  • Temperatures above 104 °F, an inability to sweat, acute respiratory distress and loss of consciousness can be signs of a heat stroke, which is much more severe and can be fatal. It is important to remember if the body can no longer cool itself, it begins to start storing heat inside. The body’s core temperature rises putting your internal organs and central nervous system at very high risk.
  • Adapting to the heat is a common way to gradually train your body to accept high heat levels. Being in good physical shape is not the same as being acclimatized, but it shortens the adjustment time. With acclimatization, you benefit from smaller increases in body temperature and heart rate, and increased sweat production while working in the heat. Working without acclimatization greatly increases the risk of heat illness. To begin acclimatization, work in a warm or hot environment for at least 100 minutes a day. Benefits of this process begin to be felt in about seven days – full acclimatization takes about two weeks.


  • If possible, try to work out early in the day before outside temperatures rise. Get out before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heat. This lengthens your day and increases energy for your summer workout. Inevitably, heat and humidity slows you down. During the hottest days, consider using a gym to exercise.
  • You shouldn’t start a new outdoor exercise if temperatures are higher than normal. You don’t know how your body will react to the activity.
  • No one is immune to heat stress. Don’t assume because you’re “in good shape” that your diet and fluid intake should remain unchanged. If you feel faint, have trouble thinking clearly or feel lightheaded, listen to your body by going indoors and cooling down. Whether at work or an outdoor event, take care – SAFETY FIRST!

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