Summer is a dangerous time of year for us southerners, with temperatures reaching well into the 100's. If you're not careful, you could be overcome by the heat without even realizing it.

That's why the Bossier City Fire Department has shared the following tips with us on how to prevent heat-related illness:

The Best Defense Is Prevention

  • Drink more non-alcoholic fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. WARNING: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you taking water pills, ask your doctor how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar. These actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90's, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place, is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although anyone, at any time, can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Be sure to check regularly on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, or those who are physically ill -- especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat, here are some recommendations:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. WARNING: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first tip, too.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. The most-effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels.

These tips can help ensure you have a happy and safe July 4th holiday.