As temperatures rise, beware of heat exhaustion and dehydration

Along with the summer heat and humidity comes the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion. When temperatures are as high as they have been in the heartland this week, it's important to be aware of how long you're spending outside and to drink plenty of water.

On especially hot days, try planning your activities for the early morning or late evening hours, where risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion are lower. If you must be outside in the peak of the heat, be sure to apply sunscreen, wear a hat to protect your face, wear light colors to deflect sunlight and take frequent breaks from the sun.

The standard eight glasses of water a day might be enough if you're inside, but if you're spending a lot of time outside, you need at least four glasses of water per hour to keep yourself hydrated. It's also important that you're drinking water and not any other kind of beverage.

"Absolutely do not drink alcohol if you're going to be outside, that just dehydrates you more," said Lynelle Diers, Director of Wapello County Public Health. "And also sugary drinks are not good, water is the best thing, or else you can use the Gatorades because that will replace some of the minerals and salts that your body loses when you sweat outside."

If you do not drink enough liquids, dehydration can turn into heat exhaustion and then heat stroke, which can be fatal if not treated.

If you feel lightheaded, cramping, nausea or you stop sweating, those are the first signs of heat exhaustion. You can try treating yourself by lying down in the shade or inside and drinking water, but if the symptoms last more than an hour, consult your doctor.