Too darn hot: Heed heatstroke's warnings

When I was a child in New York City, my parents actually belonged to a country club. I remember these ladies with B-52 beehive hairdos in their swimsuits lying on the pool chairs. It was from these ladies that I learned the sidestroke.

Here's how it works. The ladies would dip their polished toenails into the water to test it out, and then instead of diving in head first or jumping in to do a cannonball, they would slowly walk into the water. Makeup and hair were never dampened during the sidestroke. In fact, I don't even think their swimsuits got damp.

I, on the other hand, would be in the water the whole time learning to freestyle, backstroke, and, yes, sidestroke while balancing a serving tray with martinis on top of my head. Thank goodness we never learned the "Heat Stroke."

Are you a cool person like the Fonz? Well, if your core body temperature gets to 105oF, you will go from Fonz to Fizz like an overheated radiator. Your core body temperature should be around 98.6 FM– er, I mean degrees Fahrenheit (that's right, nobody listens to plain old radio since the invention of XM radio).

What does your body do to cool down, like when you exercise or when you're trapped in a hot cage in Congo? You sweat like Sarah Vaughn and Tina Turner tearing up the stage. "Steamy windows, turning up the body heat...."

However, if your body for some reason stops sweating, then the core temperature will rise. If you get up to 105 or more, your internal organs are basically fried like chicken. You can often tell when someone is going to get heat stroke because they look like Mr. French on "Family Affair": bowler hat, tie nice & straight, coat on, pale skin, and not a drop of perspiration on a hot day. (How can that be? I sweat just making toast.)

If someone becomes unconscious or delirious from heat stroke, you need to act fast, or else that one commercial becomes true– the one with the egg being your brain and the frying pan being drugs, "This is your brain on drugs. Sizzzzzle!"

The brain and internal organs start to die after 30 minutes, and many people die before they reach the ER. So you need to cool down the person ASAP and call 911.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, but normally, the body temperature doesn't get up to 105 because the person is sweating more than Pavarotti singing outside at Ash Lawn. However, sweating can eventually lead to dehydration. Here's how.

Suppose you go running outside when it is 90 degrees with 75 percent humidity. How effectively can your body cool down by sweating? Not very, so the body will sweat even more in its effort to chill out.

In marathons, water is lined up and down the course to keep everyone hydrated. But in the real world, water is not just a block away, so some people get into trouble in the middle of their workout. (Water, water, everywhere nor any drop to drink...)

They can suffer from lowered blood pressure, lightheadedness, irritability, headache, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, and hyperventilation. Sissy Spacek's "Carrie" had a better time at that prom.

What to do: get out of the sun– or better yet, into an air-conditioned room– and drink cold fluids. You can even pour ice water all over the body (like a Daytona Beach wet T-shirt contest); take off excess clothing (like a Daytona....); and call 911.

Ella Fitzgerald sang it best, "It's too darn hot, it's too darn hot..."If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen and drink a lot of fluids.

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