Dr. Curtis Chastain, president of Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group, offers five tips to beat the heat this summer.

With record heat indexes in Baton Rouge and across the state, it’s important to know precautions you and your loved ones can take and the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

Dr. Curtis Chastain, president of Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group, offers five tips to beat the heat this summer:

1. Know the heat index. The heat index is a measure of heat and humidity and can sometimes be much higher than the temperature. The higher the number, the harder it is to evaporate sweat and cool the body. When the heat index is 91 or above, take precautions, and stay hydrated and cool.

2. Hydrate before doing any outdoor activity. To assess your hydration status, a good rule of thumb is to notice the color of your urine. Clear to pale yellow urine means your hydration is acceptable. If urine is yellow, you’re at risk. Alcohol increases urine output, which increases the risk of dehydration. If you drink alcohol, remember to drink equal amounts of water.

3. Be active early in the day or in the evening. This obvious recommendation is not always feasible, but it’s a good reminder to plan strenuous or athletic activities and work for cooler parts of the day.

4. Wear loose fitting clothes. Remember that the body cools itself mainly by sweating and evaporating water from the skin. In order for sweat to evaporate, skin must be exposed to air. Tight fitting clothes often become soaked with sweat, and evaporation cannot take place.

5. Pay attention to your body. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you or someone around you begins to experience symptoms, act immediately.

“Chances are, you or someone you care about will spend significant amounts of time in this summer heat,” said Dr. Chastain. “Be smart – make plans in advance to prevent the complications of heat-related illness.”

Heat-related illness includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you begin to experience muscle cramps, dizziness or intense sweating, move to a cool place and use water or a fan to help you cool down. Heat stroke is life-threatening condition. If you begin to experience confusion, increased heart rate or rapid breathing, call 911 and begin to cool the body immediately.

Contributed by Our Lady of the Lake