6 Summer Health Hazards: How to Protect Yourself

"You can become dehydrated, and you can develop kidney damage from dehydration as well as brain damage from the heat, which can lead to confusion," said Dr. Shkelzen Hoxhaj, chief of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Who's Going to Get Hurt?

"We tend to see two different types of heat-related illness. The more common one is seen in people who heavily exert themselves and get heat stroke," said Moseley.

The other type befalls elderly people with chronic medical conditions or are on certain medications that alter the way their bodies respond to the heat.

"If they're on diuretics, for example, they don't have as much fluid in their system so fluid can't get to their skin to evaporate the heat," said Dr. Charlene Babcock Irvin, assistant chief and research director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. John Hospital and Medical Center.

"Also, some older people have mild dementia, so they may not even realize they're getting into trouble," she added.

Infants are also at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

"Their body's surface area is smaller, so they can't evaporate heat as well," said Irvin.

Medical experts are also vexed by the surprisingly high number of infants who die or become very ill because they're left in hot cars.

"People don't realize how fast it can happen," said Irvin. "If a car is in the sun, it can heat up in only two or three minutes, and crying makes infants more likely to get hot."

What Should You Do?

Experts offer the following tips to prevent heat-related illnesses: Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle if it's hot outside.

Stay indoors and if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place.

If you must be out in the heat, limit your activities to morning and evening hours.

While heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, infants and the elderly are especially susceptible. Check on them regularly.

Drink plenty of fluids, but only those that contain no sugar or alcohol.

Lightning Strikes

What Are the Dangers?

According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes about 25 million times a year in the U.S. Over the past three decades, lightning has killed, on average, 58 people per year -- higher than the average 57 deaths per year caused by tornadoes and average 48 deaths due to hurricanes.

And while documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year, the fact that many are never recorded make it likely that the true total is much higher.

Who's Going to Get Hurt?

Most lightning deaths and injuries occur in the summer, and the vast majority happen to people who are working or playing outdoors in the afternoons.

"Golfers tend to be very susceptible to lightning strikes. They're outside and they want to finish their round of golf," said Moseley.

"They're also carrying metal objects and golf courses are pretty open," said Hoxhaj.

Irvin added that many lightning injuries are trauma-related.

"People may be standing on something and fall, or they may get thrown," she said.

What Should You Do?

One of the most important things you can do to prevent being struck by lightning is to pay attention to the weather.

"A lot of times there are warnings about lightning, so you should take heed of them," said Irvin. "You need to get inside."

But if you are outside and far away from shelter when a lightning strike occurs, crouch down and get as close to the ground as possible.

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