Whether you’re from out-of-state or an Arizona native, if you've spent any amount of time here, you know that summers are hot. Temperatures reach an average 100 degrees Fahrenheit between June and July and it can stay that hot until 9 p.m. on most nights. But fear not, there are ways to beat the heat and protect yourself in the scorching Tucson sun.
Tucson is often under an extreme heat advisory during the summer months, and for good reason. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s an average of 618 heat-exposure related deaths per year. When exposed to high temperatures, the human body increases respiration and sweats. However, the body only cools down when the sweat can evaporate, so when the sweat no longer evaporates the core body temperature rises. This can cause people to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat related illnesses. This occurs when body temperature is uncontrollable and when someone is exposed to extreme heat or not accustomed to the high temperatures Tucson offers. Symptoms include low blood pressure, cool and clammy skin, profuse sweating, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, confusion, dizziness and slurred speech. Heat stroke has a number of complications and if you suspect that a person has heat stroke the CDC recommends calling 9-1-1, moving the sick to a cooler area and soaking them and their clothes with water or fanning them.
Another result of extreme heat and sun exposure, and something Arizonans know all too well, is sunburn. Too much sun exposure on a regular basis without sunscreen can result in burns, permanent skin damage and in some cases, skin cancer. Severe burns can even result in blistering of the skin, and after exposure, skin will begin to peel off. If you fall victim to sunburn, aloe or menthol gel, or a cold compress can provide relief.
These heat related illnesses may seem like enough of a reason to avoid Tucson all together, but there are steps you can take to avoid falling ill. Simply wearing SPF 30 sunscreen when going outside can protect you from sunburn, as well as wearing long sleeve shirts and pants. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen can also reducing swelling caused by the burn. While the sunburn is healing, it’s advised to say out of the sun. Protecting against sunburn can also help prevent heat stroke, as sunburn can hinder your body’s ability to cool itself. Wearing light weight and loose fitting clothes can help keep you cool, also, and take precaution with certain medications that may cause heat-related complications. Another vital step is to never leave anyone, especially animals, in cars during the summer.
Above all else, limit your time outdoors during peak temperatures, take it easy when you go out and always have water on hand.