News Release

Date: May 16, 2014 

Weather Safety Tips from UC San Diego Experts 

 

A heat advisory is still in effect in San Diego County with temperatures rising to more than 100 degrees in some areas. During this extreme weather, with the possibility of significant smoke pollution, UC San Diego Health System experts offer tips for keeping cool, staying hydrated and protecting your lungs.

Heat Safety and Hydration

Staying hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses. 

  • Try to stay in a shady or air-conditioned location during the hottest parts of the afternoon. 
  • Drink enough water to prevent thirst.
  • Monitor the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow, not dark yellow or cloudy.
  • Water and sports drinks (beverages that contain electrolytes) are the best options for hydration. Avoid sodas, juice and other fruit drinks. The National Alliance for Youth Sports recommends choosing beverages that contain 100 mg or more of sodium and 28 mg or more of potassium in an eight-ounce serving. If choosing sports drinks, avoid those with high sugar content.
  • Kids are also at risk for heat illnesses, particularly if left in a hot car — even if the windows are cracked and only for a few minutes. Never leave a child unattended in a car.

Lung Protection

Smoke resulting from wildfires can pose serious health hazards to people living and working in the surrounding areas. Residents with respiratory problems, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those with chronic heart disease should take extra precautions during this time and call their physician immediately if problems develop.

  • People living in close proximity to the fire-stricken areas should remain indoors and avoid inhalation of smoke, ash and particulate matter in the area.
  • If you reside in an area impacted by fire, it's recommended that you refrain from exercising outdoors, especially if you smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation.
  • When driving your car in smoky areas, keep your windows and vents closed. Air conditioning should only be operated in the "recirculate" setting.
  • If outdoor trips in smoky areas are necessary, breathe through a damp cloth to help filter out particles in the air.
  • Patients with asthma should check with their physician regarding any changes in medication that may be needed to cope with the smoky conditions.
  • Symptoms to watch for: wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty taking a full breath, chest heaviness, lightheadedness and dizziness. The on-set of symptoms can appear as late as 24 to 48 hours after exposure.

Sun Safety

Regardless of age and skin type (whether or not the skin burns easily), the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone apply a water-resistant sunscreen.

  • Avoid being in direct sunshine during 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the heat and light is most intense.
  • Sunscreen should protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The product should read “Broad Spectrum.”
  • You should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Experts recommend sunscreen be applied regularly throughout the time you are exposed to sunlight. 
  • Wearing protective clothing and hats is one of the most important ways to ward off UV damage. Wet, light-colored clothing transmits just as much sunlight as bare skin.
  • Keep your kids covered with dark colors, long sleeves and pants whenever possible.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection to guard against burned corneas and hats to prevent sunburned scalps and faces.
  • Learn more about sun safety here: youtube.com/watch?v=1LZDYdbBCpk

Experts available for interviews regarding heat safety tips.

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Media contact: Michelle Brubaker, 619-543-6163, mmbrubaker@ucsd.edu