Beat the heat with these summer safety tips from McLaren Greater Lansing

A scorcher. Like an oven outside. The dog days of summer. A heat wave. Call it what you want, but one thing's for sure: It's downright hot in Michigan right now.

Heat-related illness and deaths are preventable, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 Americans die every year from issues related to extreme heat.

So, how can you enjoy summer weather and keep yourself safe? Experts at McLaren Greater Lansing say this starts with knowing your risk factors.

"Vulnerable populations, including elderly persons and children with underlying health conditions, are at the greatest risk for development of heat stroke," said Sara-Bethany Weir, D.O., McLaren Greater Lansing family medicine chief resident. "It's important that people in these populations take additional precautions when it gets hot outside."

Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can regulate their body temperature in very hot weather.

Part of being prepared for outdoor activities or exercise is planning ahead. "You should take frequent breaks when exercising outside and drink enough fluids, like water and sports drinks," said Dr. Weir. "Exercise should be limited to early in the day before the temperature and humidity increase."

Wearing the right clothing can also have a major impact on your safety in the sun. "When going outside, you should wear loose, lightweight clothes that don't have many layers, and avoid prolonged time in hot cars," said Dr. Weir.

It's critical that you seek medical attention right away if you have a body temperature of 104°F or higher, a strong, fast pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or loss of consciousness. These symptoms may be a sign of heat stroke, which is always a medical emergency.

To learn your personal risk factors, make an appointment with a primary care physician. Click here to see a list of McLaren doctors who are accepting new patients.