BATON ROUGE, La – Summer is heating up – literally – across the country. Many areas, including in Louisiana, have had record-breaking temperatures in the triple digits recently.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone that it’s important to be aware of risks from high heat and sun exposure, which can include severe illness and death.
“We know high temperatures are a part of life in Louisiana in the summertime. But, it’s important to remember that hundreds of people die every year from heat-related causes,” said Dr. Jeremy Wigginton, Blue Cross medical director. “Be aware of the risks, and take steps to protect yourself and your family.”
Make sure to be aware of the temperature and take precautions as needed. If you or someone with you is having symptoms like dizziness, nausea or vomiting, heavy sweating, rapid pulse or extremely hot skin, get to a cool area and seek medical attention immediately, he said. “This is particularly important to watch for in older adults and very young children, who may not be able to feel and respond to overheating as quickly,” Dr. Wigginton said.
Dr. Wigginton explains how you can keep your family safe in the summer heat in this interview with WWL-TV’s “Great Day Louisiana.” (6:34)
Heat and Sun Safety Tips
Follow these steps to beat the heat the healthy way:
• Plan outdoor activities like exercising, yard work or gardening in early mornings or evenings, when temperatures are lower
• Drink lots of water, even if you do not feel thirsty – this will keep you hydrated (Blue Cross dietitians explain how to make sure you’re drinking enough water in this video)
• Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
• If you will be outdoors, take frequent breaks indoors or in the shade, and use a buddy system so no one is outdoors alone for long periods
“Most importantly, always look before you lock your vehicle – never, ever leave a child or a pet alone in a car. They can overheat and die in a matter of minutes,” Dr. Wigginton said.
It’s also important to protect your skin from sun exposure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), too much exposure to ultraviolet rays causes most cases of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
Lower your risks by:
• Applying sunscreen with a high enough SPF content to protect your face and body whenever you’re outdoors, even on cloudy or overcast days – if you have a family or personal history of skin cancer, use a higher SPF
• Reapplying your sunscreen as often as needed per the directions on the label for the best protection, especially after swimming, being in water or sweating
• Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes whenever you’re outdoors
• Putting on baggy, long-sleeved, lightweight clothing to cover skin
• Using hats with wide brims to protect your head, scalp and neck from sun exposure
“Your scalp is very susceptible to sun exposure, and sunburns in this area often lead to skin cancer in older adults,” Dr. Wigginton said. “Your hair is not enough covering to protect your head and neck from sunburn, so take extra precautions.”
For more summer health tips, visit bcbsla.com/Summer or watch Blue Cross’ animated videos on Water Safety (:30) and Sun & Heat Safety (:30).
You can connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA to see original graphic designs, videos and other messages sharing information about summer health and heat safety. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on summer health tips and other wellness topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.