The National Centers for Environmental Information stated that the global annual temperature has “increased at an average rate of 0.08°C (0.14°F) per decade since 1880 and over twice that rate (+0.18°C / +0.32°F) since 1981.” Although we still experience snowfall, rain, and colder weather, the planet is undoubtedly growing warmer due to the rise of greenhouse gases caused by human activity. While it is true that we must reduce our carbon footprint in order to save the planet, we must also teach ourselves to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion.
In this blog, Hoffner Heating and Air Conditioning, a family-owned and operated HVAC company, defines heat exhaustion, lists its signs and common causes, and provides five actions you can take to avoid it.
Heat exhaustion is a temporary illness caused by exposure to high temperatures, typically resulting from physical activity in warm weather. Those who experience heat exhaustion find themselves unable to regulate their core body temperature to cool off in warmer weather. The most common symptoms are:
- Cool, moist skin with goosebumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure upon standing
- Muscle cramps
It is important to note that heat exhaustion is not the same as heatstroke. The latter occurs when a person’s core body temperature rises to 104°F (40°C) or higher and requires immediate medical attention. If you think you or someone you know is experiencing heatstroke, call 911 immediately. Heat exhaustion, however, can be treated with some simple steps:
1. Drinking Water
Staying hydrated plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature and keeping cool. You may also consume fruits and vegetables that contain large amounts of water.
Drinking ice-cold water and eating cold foods can provide temporary relief from heat exhaustion. However, you must stay hydrated before and after working out. Sweating is one of the key ways your body lowers its core temperature, typically resting at 98°F (37°C). However, sweating also causes water loss, so it is essential to keep on top of the amount of water you drink.
2. Wearing Weather-Appropriate Clothing
When it comes to working out, wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing is a must. Many people choose to wear shirts with long sleeves and even long pants under the belief that they will increase the calories they burn and the amount they sweat. However, these articles of clothing actually make it more difficult for your body to cool off properly, given that they prevent sweat evaporation, ultimately contributing to heat exhaustion.
3. Investing in Air Conditioning
Whether you choose to install central air or window units, air conditioning will do wonders for you during the hot summer months. In fact, we’ve done the research for you and determined the best temperature for sleeping, working, and exercising. If you are in a home with more than one floor, air conditioning will be even more beneficial, given that heat rises. It’s great for pets as well!
What’s more, air conditioning allows you to continue exercising despite the heat. Not only will you avoid the risk of heat exhaustion altogether, but you will not be required to put your daily activities on pause. In addition to bringing down the temperature in your home, air conditioning:
- Lowers humidity
- Improves air quality and circulation
- Reduces allergens
In a 2020 study monitoring residents in Detroit, researchers found that “not having central AC was associated with increased odds of heat exhaustion.” However, we at Hoffner advise that air conditioning users be mindful of going from one extreme temperature to another; if you are outside in the heat for a prolonged period of time, do not set your thermostat too low to avoid shock.
Are you worried about your system’s impact on the environment? There are a number of ways you can reduce your air conditioning carbon footprint this summer.
4. Getting Acclimated
If you find yourself uncomfortable in the heat and relying too much on air conditioning, gradual exposure to heat might be best for you. While we do not suggest getting rid of your air conditioning system altogether, monitoring the temperature at which you keep your home in relation to the temperature outdoors will assist you in getting acclimated to the heat. For example, if the temperature outside is in the 8os, set your thermostat in the 70s instead of in the 60s., it is best to set your thermostat in the 70s instead of the 60s.
While there are a few ways to keep cool in the warm weather, determining the best course of action for you and your loved ones can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you need a unit installed or your air conditioning system needs maintenance, Hoffner Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help. Fill out our form to contact us today or call us at 412-376-9080.