If only the lyrics that King Arthur sings in the play “Camelot” were true in North Carolina. If the climate was “perfect all year,” surely, there would not “be a more congenial spot, for happy-ever-after-ing.”
But such is not the case. There is no legal limit to the snow in North Carolina. Conversely, July and August can certainly run a bit hot.
And while snow and ice may provide a slippery mess in the wintertime, heat and humidity make for quite a slippery slope for Carolinians who do not respect the dangerous combination, especially with upcoming temperatures to reach the high 90s.
Heat-related illnesses don’t escalate in predictable increments. The impacts of heat test our complacency, our vigilance and our hubris, especially when accompanied by the state’s humidity.
The truth is that any heat-related illness don’t evolve like clockwork in an ever-worsening scenario. Rather, they progress with insidious irregularity.
They may be listed in worsening order, but they often progress unpredictably, necessitating all the more diligence by observers and warranting all the more respect by potential victims.
While beer and soda companies spend millions of dollars on ads telling us that their products quench the toughest summer thirsts, experts say the best beverage on hot days is also the least expensive: water. The truth is that alcoholic beverages and caffeinated sodas cause further dehydration, making conditions worse.
As children from as young as 3 to high-school aged flood City of Raleigh summer camps in the coming weeks, officials plan to focus on water consumption.
Joseph Voska, the City’s recreation program manager, said camp leaders encourage parents to provide their children water bottles on a daily basis. The leaders ensure campers consistently drink water during outdoors activities, especially in the upcoming weather.
“We’re always looking to make sure kids are getting extra water breaks and kids are getting hydrated,” Voska said.
The risk of dehydration due to physical activity in the heat can be greatly reduced with about 2.5 cups of fluid two hours before beginning activity and about two cups 10-15 minutes right before exertion; during exercise, drink up to one cup every 15 minutes. After exercise, drink appropriate fluids until you have returned to your normal weight.
But with children, adults have to gauge a child’s behavior. Camp leaders in Raleigh are trained to get to know participants’ personalities, so if they appear more lethargic, they’ll know to pull that camper aside for a break. It’s difficult for a young child to admit he or she needs one, though.
“They want to have fun; they want to play,” Voska said of campers. “Some of our kids go down to 3 years old, so we really emphasize to the staff that ... your observational skills are going to be key. We encourage kids to communicate, but we can’t rely on them to tell us what’s going on. We have to be very vigilant and notice when they’re acting a little lethargic.”
Those exercising should drink water or sports drinks with less than 10 percent sugar content, avoid caffeinated sodas, iced tea and coffee, and stay away from salt tablets, diuretics, or alcohol.
According to Healthline.com and the American Red Cross, heat-related illnesses fall generally into the following three basic classifications: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The first, cramps, are commonplace, especially in sporting events played in hot conditions.
Heat exhaustion is more severe, still treatable with common-sensical approaches but requires more if the symptoms persist.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical treatment.
Like “tornado watch” and “tornado warning,” laymen often confuse the terms “heat exhaustion” and “heat stroke,” their severity and required treatments.
Children and the elderly are most at risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses, according to Cynthia LaBella, an adult and pediatric sports medicine specialist writing for the Center for Athletic Medicine.
“Children produce more internal heat,” LaBella pointed out. “They also have a higher surface-area to body weight ratio, which means they absorb more heat from the environment, and their sweating capacity is less.”
Parents need to be especially alert to dehydration and the development of problems in infants who can’t speak up and ask for something to drink, Healthline.com noted.
“The elderly can also be more susceptible to the heat due to the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases,” LaBella added, “or the intake of like diuretic medicines common for controlling blood pressure.”
If we stay hydrated, stay cool and stay safe, there’s a virtual guarantee of living – and playing – happily ever after.
Jessika Morgan contributed to this article.
Symptoms: Single or multiple muscle cramps.
What To Do: If cramping is in multiple muscles, seek medical attention. Place victim at rest in a cool environment, provide a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes (with a teaspoon of salt per quart), or a commercial sports drink (e.g. Gatorade). Lightly stretch the affected muscle, replenish fluids, and watch for improvement.
Symptoms: Victim is extremely sweaty, has cold or clammy skin, a mildly elevated temperature, pale color, dizziness, weak or rapid pulse, shallow breathing, nausea, headache, or unconsciousness.
What To Do: Stop all physical activity and move the victim immediately to a cool place out of the sun, preferably a cool, air-conditioned location. Hydrate and lay down with feet slightly elevated. Loosen clothing, and supply cold (but not iced), slightly-salty water or a commercial sports drink, provided in half-glass increments every 15 minutes. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
Symptoms: A life-threatening condition marked by a hot body with a core temperature as high as 104 degrees F, red or flushed skin color, rapid or strong pulse, difficulty breathing, mental status changes.
What To Do: Simply moving the individual experiencing heat stroke to a cooler place is not enough to reverse the overheating. Emergency medical assistance should be called immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, take quick action to lower body temperature. Loosen clothing and allow air to circulate around the body. Immerse the victim in a cool bath or wrap the victim in wet towels or clothing, and place ice packs in areas with the greatest blood supply (neck, und