The hot days of summer are finally here. Every free moment is spent outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Too much sun can be a bad thing, especially on days of extreme heat. When spending a lot of time in the sun, you must take precautions to prevent heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion occurs when someone spends too much time in the heat causing the body to lose fluids and salt. Symptoms include fatigue, a quick pulse, dizziness, cramps and excessive sweating. This seems dramatic, but the chance of suffering from heat exhaustion rises with the temperature. Adding humidity and any physical activity into the mix increases the chance even more. When the heat index, which measures both temperature and humidity, gets higher than 90, the chance of heat exhaustion increases significantly.

While the symptoms may not seem serious, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke which is a serious condition. There is plenty that can be done to prevent your body from overheating.

Stay cool

On incredibly hot and humid days, it’s best to stay inside or in a cool room. A dip in the pool will help bring body temperature down, but spending all day in the water exposed to the sun can do more harm than good on your skin and body. The best thing is to stay in the shade or in an air conditioned building. Even a short period of time in a cool room can help your body return to a normal temperature.

Use Sunscreen

Apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater to keep your skin from getting burnt. If recovering from sunburn you are more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion because your body has a harder time cooling itself. Don’t forget that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours.

Cover Up

Dark, heavy and tight clothing will hold in heat and work against you. Light colored, light weight and loose clothing will allow your skin to breathe and your body to stay cool as best it can. Wear a wide brimmed hat, or at least a baseball cap to keep the sun off of your face as well.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water, besides not going in the sun, is the easiest way to prevent heat exhaustion. Keeping hydrated keeps your body at a normal temperature. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages as they only make you more dehydrated.

Young children and anyone older than 65 have a greater risk of heat exhaustion. Anyone is susceptible to heat exhaustion so everyone should take precautions to prevent it. If you do start to overheat and see the symptoms go somewhere cool and drink water. Heat exhaustion is serious, but prevention is simple.