West: Hot summer sun poses dangers
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By MIKE WEST

How are you enjoying all this hot weather?

I enjoy warm weather, but when it starts getting up near 100 its time for me to stay inside.

Why? A few years ago, I suffered a heat stroke and since then extremely hot temperatures really get to me. Before then, I could spend the day (after day) "piloting" a bush-hog equipped tractor all over the family farm. Hot weather just didn't bother me.

Was it really heat stroke? Maybe it was just what they call heat "exhaustion" these days. After all, I didn't pass out nor did I have to go to the hospital. But here are some of the symptoms:

Extreme sweating.

Rapid heartbeat

Confusion

Pale skin

Dizziness

Muscle cramps

Bad headache

I didn't faint, but I almost did and it took a few days to get over my "exhaustion." And like I said, I am more easily impacted by heat now like when I am manning the grill outside on a hot summer day.

Eventually, I did learn how to avoid heat-related problems. (Air conditioning ... or head for the shade.)

A big, powerful fan on my patio helps too.

Drinking plenty of water is the best thing and is superior to soft drinks or tea. Unfortunately, drinks containing alcohol (that means ice-cold beer) doesn't help as much. That sort of beverage can actually make heat stroke or exhaustion worse.

The main strategy is to keep as cool as you can to begin with so you don't overheat. There's nothing wrong with ducking inside for a few minutes to cool off in the air conditioning.

And hot weather is the time to wear loose, light-colored baggy clothing. I prefer a baggy, all-cotton T-shirt with my long (baggy) shorts. Yep, you will catch me dressed that way complete with sandals and a ball cap. No, its not pretty.

If that doesn't work, crank up the fan (if you've got one) and apply an icy wet towel. Get out of the sun!

If you are still overheating and can get inside, take a cool shower. The idea is to cool down as quickly as possible without having to call 911.

Another BIG worry this time of year are folks who leave children or pets inside a locked car or truck.

As for pets, leave them at home.

That's more difficult to do with youngsters. Don't leave them in your car even for a second. If you have to dash inside (let's say) a convenience market for a second, DON'T leave them in the car. I know that's a hassle, but, like they say, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Thus far, this year, 23 youngsters have died this year because they were left in a car. In most cases, (54%), the child was "forgotten" by their caregiver. In other cases, the child was playing in an unattended vehicle. In 17 percent of the cases, the young victims were intentionally left in the car by an adult.

It's difficult to understand how a parent or other caretaker could forget to get a child out of the car, but it happens. The most recent case was in Dallas where parents left their child inside of their car parked outside of a church.

This horrible mistake shows why no one should take hot weather for granted.

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