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Travel to Hot Climates

Many of the most popular travel destinations are tropical or desert areas. If you plan on doing any strenuous hiking, biking, or work in the heat, then you are at risk of heat-related illness and injury, especially if you’re not used to the heat. Even sitting on the beach or by the pool or doing a short walking tour can put you at risk of a heat-related illness. People at highest risk are the elderly, young children, and people with chronic illnesses, but even young and healthy people can get sick from heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Overheating can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Woman walking on sand dunes

When traveling in hot climates

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when outdoors.
  • Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
    • Rest often, and stay in the shade when outdoors.
    • If you will be doing strenuous activities in the heat, try to get adjusted before you travel by exercising 1 hour per day in the heat.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, those with high blood pressure, and those working or exercising in a hot environment. Symptoms include excessive thirst, profuse sweating, headache, dizziness or confusion, and nausea.

If you or anyone you are traveling with develops these symptoms

  • Get out of the sun and try to cool off by fanning or getting in the water.
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages, such as water or sports-electrolyte drinks.

Heat Stroke

Chairs on beach

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Early symptoms are similar to those of heat exhaustion, with confusion or change in personality, loss of coordination, dizziness, headache, and nausea that progress to more severe symptoms. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes; even without a thermometer, people will feel hot to the touch. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

If you or anyone you are traveling with develops these symptoms

  • Move to the shade or a cool place out of the sun.
  • Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages, such as water or sports-electrolyte drinks.
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms persist; heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency.

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