An explanation of why you shouldn’t drink when temperatures are extremely hot.
With summer comes hopes of relaxation for children and adults alike, barbecues, fresh seasonal fruit, going to the pool or beach, and of course, the often unbearable heat. Having a drink to go along with some of the mentioned activities is no big deal at all. The danger comes when you drink or become intoxicated on exceptionally hot days without letting yourself cool down first. The reason? Alcohol is extremely dehydrating. Adding heat to the mix, which will also elicit major dehydration in people, is an accident waiting to happen.
Say you’ve just gotten in a good workout or done a difficult physical activity and want to have a drink soon after. Or maybe you plan on drinking outside for the day. While those options sound refreshing and cooling, it’s not the best idea. This could cause accidents and various heat related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If you do happen to drink on a particularly hot day, it’s important to keep in mind the symptoms that occur with heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
For heat stroke, symptoms include fatigue, headache, decreased sweating, wild or rapid heartbeat, hot, flushed skin, and shortness of breath. Heat exhaustion symptoms include excessive thirst, weakness, confusion, abnormal sweating and clammy skin, slow heartbeat, dizziness, and fainting. Another possible heat illness to be concerned about is heat cramps. Heat cramp symptoms include severe cramps that usually begin in the hands, calves, or feet, as well as hard or tense muscles.
If it turns out that you need to treat someone else with a heat related illness, get them to a cooler place immediately. Seek out medical treatment immediately by way of a clinic or hospital. In the meantime, wrap wet towels around the person, or simply submerge them in water if at all possible. If there are ice packs available, place them on parts of the body which have larger blood vessels, such as the armpits, ankles, wrists, and neck.
Knowing how to prevent the illnesses in the first place is just as invaluable and life-saving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking, because by then it may be too late. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. Wear a good amount of powerful sunscreen and sunglasses when outside. Plan outdoor activities by taking advantage of cooler temperatures in the morning and evening. Be aware of how your body is reacting to the heat, and pace yourself. If you get dizzy or weak, cease all activity immediately.
The CDC warns that as low as one drink a day for women and two for men may put you at risk for heat related illnesses, and that the safest option for the summer is to stay alcohol free- or as free as possible.