Did you know the meaning of the "dog days" of summer has nothing to do with your panting dog? The meaning goes way back to ancient Greek and Roman times. "Dog days" really refers to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens. To the ancients, these days were the hottest time of the year that could bring on fever or catastrophe.
There's no doubt about it, we are in the middle of the hottest and muggiest time of the year. You need to take precautions and stay safe. Know the symptoms of becoming overheated, because heat stroke is serious and can be avoided if you take special care when you must be out in the heat.
Watch out for signs of:
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Red skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Confusion or disorientation
- Lack of sweating, despite the heat
You certainly want to be aware of these early signs, because if you ignore them, you or your loved one may faint and suffer from heat stroke.
Avoid injury by trying these tips for beating the summer heat.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting cotton clothing.
- Use sunscreen with SPF-30 or higher
- Keep water bottles in the freezer. Grab one when you have to be outside. As the ice melts, you have a supply of cold water.
- Drink plenty of water and drinks with electrolytes.
- Fill a spray bottle with water for a quick refreshing mist.
- To combat dehydration, avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Try to schedule your outdoor work either in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky.
- Place a bowl of ice water in front of your fan for an added cool breeze.
- Take a cool shower.
Pay special attention to young children, the elderly and anyone with a chronic illness, as they dehydrate more easily and are more at risk for heat related injury.
Even though the Greeks and Romans thought this time of the year would bring catastrophe, it doesn't have to. You are prepared and will "chill" during the dog days of summer.