Every year in the United States, a college athlete suffers a serious heat-related illness that could have been avoided by taking the proper precautions. In areas that have high temperatures and humidity rates, it's extremely important to make sure you're prepared.
Perspiration is important in humid conditions, because if the levels are too high, the water vapor in the air does not allow your body to efficiently cool itself down. When this thick water vapor sticks to your skin like a thin plastic wrap, it prevents your sweat to come in contact with the air, which will create a boiling effect. When this happens, body temperature increases, and this can create heat exhaustion, heat stroke or even death.
If you know you're going to be doing a race or sporting event in these type of conditions, follow these six helpful tips:
1. Proper Clothing
Make sure you wear light colored clothing that's breathable if you're going to be running, hiking or playing a sport where the conditions are favorable to get a heat-related illness. Light-colored clothing allows the body to cool down through perspiration.
2. Hydration Requirements
The basic rule of thumb is drink when your body wants a drink. If you're in a race, you don't have to stop by every water station. Too much fluid intake can create hyponatremia or low blood sodium. If you tend to zone out when you're running or exercising, then you can follow the 15- to 20-minute fluid intake rule.
3. Hot and Humid
You need to be cautious with your fluid intake when it's extremely hot and humid. If you feel like you have not had a sip of fluid, and you're not thirsty or sweating, then your body is going into survival mode. You need to get out of the heat because you're at the beginning phase of a heat-related illness.