5 Critical Heat Safety Tips for Patients

Heat Safety Tips for Patients

Brush up on your summer safety knowledge with our top heat safety tips so you can educate your patients on how to remain safely active during these long, hot summer days.

Summertime is hot… especially in the South! With temperatures climbing to 100 degrees or more, it’s critically important you provide life-saving heat safety tips to your patients.

#1 - Educate your Patient on the Signs of Heat Illness.

This is the first and most important of our heat safety tips. You must educate your patient about signs of heat fatigue, heat cramps, heat stroke, and especially, what to do in these situations. Taking the right actions quickly can save a life!

Heat Cramps are muscle spasms due to heat, often caused by dehydration. Water and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are important for effective muscle contractions. With lack of electrolytes, cramps ensue and participation in activities becomes limited. So, encourage fluid consumption and explain the importance of electrolytes, especially with younger or athletic patients who participate in training or competitive sports during the summertime.

Heat Fatigue causes sudden flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, severely generalized body ache, fatigue, rapid pulse, and fever. Resting as well as getting enough electrolytes and fluids can help, but medical treatment should be sought promptly for anyone suffering from these symptoms.

Heat Stroke is a dangerous and potentially fatal condition. Here, the body is unable to maintain the central temperature, affecting the visceral organs like the brain and heart. Permanent damage can occur from heat stroke. The National Safety Council advises bystanders to spray water or apply ice to the heat stroke victim's neck, armpits, and groin area. Also, emergency medical care should be sought immediately. The patient suffering heat stroke should not drink liquids until he/she is stabilized.

#2 – Know the Heat Index.

Number two of our heat safety tips is to teach patients to stay aware of the heat index. The “heat index” represents the discomfort felt as a result of the combined effects of temperature and the humidity level. For example, the temperature outside may be 80 degrees, but due to humidity levels it will actually feel warmer. A high heat index is a risk factor for heat-related illness to occur. It can also impact the elderly, babies, and patients with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

#3 – Consider Alternative Activities.

Encourage alternatives to outside training or work on very hot days, if possible. For example, aquatic therapy is a great option to improve muscle strength and flexibility without exposing a patient or athlete to the heat. Furthermore, water can provide a good amount of resistance. Last, encourage trainers or coaches to utilize indoor facilities for workouts to avoid direct heat exposure.

#4 – Encourage Water Safety.

According to the CDC (2016): “From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.” The danger of drowning is a serious issue that people need to be aware of every time they go swimming, especially when swimming with children or older adults. One of the best ways to protect children from drowning to make sure an adult is always supervising them. Also, anyone participating in swimming or water activities should be aware of the rescue equipment around them (life vests, rafts, buoys, etc.).

Print out our FREE Summer Safety Guide to share with your patients. Created by a lifeguard, this free guide provides guidelines for water safety as well as additional sun, firework, and heat safety tips.

#5 – Keep the Phone Close.

The final of our heat safety tips is to instruct patients to keep their cell phone within reach at all times when participating in outside activities. Easy access to a phone can save precious time should an emergency situation arise. Learn More:
This article was written by Bijal Shah, Clinical Educator

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