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Here´s how to stay cool when it´s hot outside

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RUSTY WELLER/Ellis County Press Managing Editor

Health is as hot an issue as the temperature outside. The old saying is true: 'You don't know what you've got until it's gone,' as those who've let their health slip will attest. To your health, the Ellis County Press launches a new series of health-related articles. Today: how to better brave the summer sun. This summer there are two things you should never leave home without: sunscreen and sunglasses. Sun exposure is one of the most important steps you can take to keep your skin looking young while avoiding serious cancer.

Wear sunscreen all the time - not just for a Saturday outing. Fred Herrington, Ellis County's director of Indigent Health Care, would tell you sun exposure comes from simple daily activities, not just from deliberate recreational sun exposure.

Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and one that offers protection from both ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) light. Reapply it often.

Reflective sunglasses can help prevent fine wrinkles around the eyes. Using shades and avoiding direct sun on your eyes also reduces your risk of cataract formation later in life.

As the temperature climbs this summer, so will the number of people suffering heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Ellis County Agent Sharon Amelunke says here are symptoms to watch for:

Heat cramps - Painful cramping and spasms of legs, arms and/or abdominal muscles.

Heat Exhaustion - Feeling tired, weak and dizzy. Headache, nausea and possible vomiting. Heavy perspiration with the skin feeling moist.

Heat Stroke - Feeling tired, weak and dizzy. Skin feels hot and dry, even under arms, appears red and flushed. Person may become delirious and unconscious.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Call 9-1-1! Remove clothing. Sponge with cool water. Fan with a towel or cloth. Call an ambulance and transport the person to the nearest emergency room.

For heat cramps, rest in a cool, shaded place. Drink cool water slowly. Stretch the muscle lightly, and massage the area gently.

For heat exhaustion, lie down in a cool, shaded place with feet raised eight to 12 inches. Loosen all clothing. Drink cool water and place cool, wet cloths on forehead and body.

The elderly and very young are especially susceptible to heat-related problems. But injury is preventable with a few, easy precautions. According to Dr. Carol Rice, associate professor and extension specialist in health education, offers these ways to deduce your risk:

* Drink lots of cool water, even more than you think you need, especially with high humidity when our skin doesn't cool as quickly because perspiration is slowed. Drink at least 16 glasses of liquid a day when the outside temperature is over 90 degrees. Water is best. Fruit and vegetable juices also are good. But don't drink alcoholic beverages or caffeine drinks because they cause you to lose fluid.

* Wear light-colored clothes that are loosely woven and absorbent. Cotton is best. And wear a hat to shade your head.

* Avoid outside activities during the heat of the day. If required to work, take frequent breaks and drink cool water. Don't run or do other types of energetic exercise in the heat of the day. Get wet as often as possible to give your body's cooling system a boost.

Older people are more sensitive to heat and may easily suffer heat-related sickness. Anyone with diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure or Parkinson's disease is more sensitive.

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