Summer is here, and although everyone waited for it all winter, the summer brings very intense heat with the sunshine. Many people spend as much time as possible out in the sun. Sometimes it’s doing various outdoor activities like boating or backyard barbecuing. Or it could be that some people have moved from the tanning booth to the beach.

While out there engaging in the many activities of summer, try to remember that Mother Nature is a hard task master. While she provides all that sunshine, there can be a price to pay for not being careful.

At times, a cool breeze or cloud cover creates a false sense of security. Some may stay out in the sun longer or not use sunscreen – failing to realize the effects of the sun are nearly as strong as if it were direct sunlight.

Most people have heard of the major heat related problems – namely heat exhaustion and heat stroke which can be fatal. The thing worth remembering is that most heat related injuries can be prevented with a little diligence.

Like most health problems, heat injuries start small but if left unchecked will become more complicated or more serious.

The key to preventing most heat related problems is in preventing dehydration. Sweating from summer outdoor activities causes water loss. It is imperative to replenish that water loss continuously during the course of the day with either water or a sports drink. Drinking fluids all day long, not just during or after our vigorous activity, is important.

A person planning to run after work, for example, may consume a coffee that morning, soft drink at lunch and then follow with a bottle of water after running.

The better approach would be to decrease the caffeine intake, drink a bottle of water at the mid-morning break and at lunch as well as another one after the run.

Some people mistakenly think that as long as they drink their eight glasses of water a day it doesn’t matter if they take most of it in during the evening hours. It’s probably best to take in more than eight glasses of water during the warm months, but don’t overdo it by trying to drink large volumes in short periods of time.

A condition called water intoxication comes from drinking too much water, and can also be extremely hazardous.

Two big signs of dehydration are the inability to sweat and lacking the need to urinate, compared to the amount of fluid taken and urine becomes very dark instead of being clear.

Dehydration would have started with smaller symptoms, like dry mouth or excessive sweating. Right then is the time to take in water or fluids with electrolytes. Keep an eye on others as well. One person can see the signs of dehydration on another person before he or she knows it.

Failing to notice early signs of dehydration requires immediate action as soon as the problem is detected. Stop all activity and rest. Get out of the sun and go indoors where it is cool. Take in fluids.

The progression from starting to become dehydrated to having a severe heat injury can happen very quickly in the extreme heat. A person with medical problems or a previous heat casualty must be very careful in the heat and humidity.

Monitor yourself, your children, your friends and neighbors – especially the very young and the very old, and even your pets. Fight heat injuries by preventing or fighting dehydration.