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Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Florida’s looking pretty good right now

Miami, at 87 degrees, is looking pretty good right now. So what about its “feels like” heat index of 95? That’s nothing compared to ours: 118, according to weather.com.

It goes without saying that in this weather, you’re better off inside, in air conditioning, than outside. It also should go without saying that you need to drink more fluids than usual on days like this — and that you should avoid drinking alcohol. You should also keep close tabs on infants and the elderly; they’re especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.

Here’s a little primer on those illnesses:

A person suffering from heat exhaustion will commonly exhibit some or all of the following symptoms, according to mayoclinic.com: Heavy sweating, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea,  headache, low blood pressure when standing up, a weak, rapid pulse and cool, moist skin with goose bumps.

People experiencing these symptoms need to stop all activity, get into a cool place, drink cool fluids, apply cool water to the skin and rest. If you don’t get cooled down, your problem might progress to heatstroke, which is life-threatening.

Heatstroke symptoms include a lack of sweating, flushed skin, headache, muscle cramps, seizures, hallucinations, difficulty speaking or understanding others, a racing heart rate, rapid breathing, muscles that become weak, rigid or limp, and a body temperature of 104 or higher.

Immediate medical care is needed to prevent organ damage or death from heatstroke. Read more at mayoclinic.com (just type “heatstroke” or “heat exhaustion” into the search box).

It’s been startling to me just how debilitating this sizzling heat feels, and how torturous it is to simply stand outside in it. At my kids’ swim meet last night, I experienced a form of cruelty swim team families know well: You’re poolside, sweltering, sweat dripping down your back, with cool water literally inches away. But for hours on end, you can’t jump in because there are races going on.

For me — ugh. For my kids — not so bad. I said ‘yes’ every time they asked for an Italian Ice or Gatorade from the snack bar, and I let them sit inside and watch TV after the meet.  Gatorade, TV and icy treats — not such a bad way to get through these sweltering summer days!

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/inmoderation/2011/07/21/floridas-looking-pretty-good-right-now/

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