The region is expected to get its first experience with summer-like weather this week. Forecasters are calling for hot, humid conditions, with the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms.
Health care professionals say that type of weather could be dangerous for people who spend a lot of time outside. "Your body, to cool itself off, basically sends more blood circulating through the skin and leaves less blood to the muscles, and that in turn increases the heart rate," says Dr. John Molesworth, an emergency room physician at Frederick Memorial Hospital. "And when humidity is high, there’s added stress when the extra sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly from you skin. Your body temperature goes even higher at that point."
He says too much heat can result in heat exhaustion, says Dr. Molesworth. The symtoms are feeling dizzy and light headed, and having muscle cramps. If that happens, he says, get into the shade, drink plenty of water and remove extra clothing. "It’s a good idea to cool yourself off with a hose or get in a cool shower. But it’s very important you get out of the environment and stop exercising if you have any of those symptoms at all."
The symptoms of heat stroke include seizures and passing out. If that happens, Dr. Molesworth says that’s a medical emergency and you need to call 911 as soon as possible.
He also suggests runners and other athletes who like to exercise outside should do so during the early morning or in the evening, when it’s not as hot. "We see so many people every year that despite that, go out in the middle of the day and exercise. But even well-conditioned athletes develop heat-related injuries," says Dr. Molesworth.
And when it comes to hydrating yourself, health officials say water is the best; alcohol is not. "It impairs your judgment. It can actually cause dehydration. It’s bad on multiple levels to drink, to combine alcohol with the extreme heat," says Dr. Molesworth.