Summer Heat Back for Arkansans Labor Day Holiday Football And Fun

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'One way people often deal with the heat, especially at the pre-game tailgate parties, is to reach for a cold drink containing alcohol. Extreme heat and alcohol, however, can be a recipe for injuries, illness and even death.'

Football frenzy in the air with college teams across the state gearing up to open the season.

While Arkansans will pack coolers and grills for tailgating fun in and outside of stadiums, the American Red Cross in Arkansas reminds fans the importance of avoiding heat-related illnesses during hot weather games early in the season.

“It starts and ends with hydration,” said Rick Harvey, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross in Arkansas. “When you’re having fun socializing at tailgating events, many times with alcoholic beverages included, you don’t really think about the importance of staying hydrated until it’s too late. Taking precautions throughout the day can help avoid getting sick and lead to a much more enjoyable experience inside and outside of the stadium.”

Temperatures for the University of Arkansas’ opener against Louisiana-Lafayette in Fayetteville are predicted to be hovering around 96 degrees for the 3 p.m. kickoff. In Jonesboro, where Arkansas State opens the season against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a 6 p.m. kickoff will be greeted by temperatures in the low 90s.

One way people often deal with the heat, especially at the pre-game tailgate parties, is to reach for a cold drink containing alcohol. Extreme heat and alcohol, however, can be a recipe for injuries, illness and even death.

Alcohol lowers the body’s tolerance for heat and acts as a diuretic — meaning it speeds up dehydration — and affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. The body loses needed fluids through the urination alcohol induces. If fluids in the body are not replaced, dehydration can be life-threatening.

Alcohol also raises the body’s blood pressure, increasing the risk of a heat-related illness like hyperthermia (over heating) and heat stroke (especially for people with high blood pressure).

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • The American Red Cross First Aid App for smart phones and tablets has numerous tips, many with videos, from identifying heat related illness symptoms, as well as expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency such as a stroke or heart attack. A 911 emergency dialer is also built in to the app.” The Red Cross First Aid App is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores and at redcross.org/mobileapps.

    In addition to limiting the intake of alcohol while in the sun, other steps recommended by the Center for Disease Control to help cool down include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. During heavy exertion, drink 16 to 32 ounces of cool fluids each hour.
  • Choose fluids carefully. A sports beverage can replace the minerals you lose while sweating. Avoid liquids that contain large amounts of sugar, which can lead to dehydration. Also stay away from very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. When you go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, putting on sunglasses, and by using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Pace yourself. Rest often in shady areas, especially if you feel lightheaded, confused, weak or faint. If you find yourself gasping for breath or feel your heart pounding, immediately get into a cool area. If these symptoms continue or you develop dizziness or muscle cramps, you should go to the stadium’s aid station for further evaluation and treatment.
  • For more safety information, such as how to sign up for First Aid/CPR training click here.