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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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Safety tips recommended for coping with the heat

The staff of Princeton University Health Services has provided the following information and safety tips for University community members and visitors to follow during periods of high temperatures this summer:

  • Working or exercising outdoors during excessively high temperatures can result in heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Anyone is susceptible to a heat-related illness and should take steps to minimize risk factors.
  • Keep water on hand to remain well hydrated. Sports drinks or fruit juices also are recommended to help replenish lost fluids. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
  • Stay in air-conditioned spaces whenever possible.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a lightweight hat that shades the head and face.
  • Wear sunscreen to protect against sunburn.
  • Avoid any strenuous outdoor activity, especially between the hours of noon and 3 p.m. Limit outdoor exercise to short periods of time in the morning and late afternoon.
  • The safe amount of exercise is related to each person's fitness level and how well acclimated he or she is to the heat. Generally, limit exercise in the heat to 15-30 minutes for the first few sessions and gradually increase until becoming acclimated to the heat, which takes one to two weeks.
  • If any signs of heat-related illness are present, stop exercising immediately, get to a cool environment and obtain medical advice. Anyone who has suffered a heat-related illness must not return to exercise until cleared by a physician.
  • Drink approximately 16 ounces of fluid two hours before any outdoor exercise and eight ounces every 15 minutes during exercise. Drinking only when thirsty is not enough offset the fluid lost during exercise. Anyone exercising for more than one hour or at a high level of intensity should replenish fluids with a combination of water and beverages containing electrolytes and carbohydrates, such as sports drinks. Avoid "energy" drinks that are high in caffeine or contain ephedra, which may be hazardous.
  • When working outdoors, take frequent breaks and cool down in an air-conditioned space. Princeton's Office of Environmental Health and Safety has developed a heat stress fact sheet for outdoor workers.
  • Keep in mind that young children, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions -- including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes -- are more susceptible to the effects of the heat.
  • To determine whether the heat and humidity are high enough to avoid outdoor activity, visit the National Weather Service's heat index chart .

If you are feeling any symptoms of heat exposure, or if you want more information, call University Health Services at (609) 258-3141.

Contact: Eric Quinones (609) 258-3601

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