A four-day heat wave in Connecticut begins today with the heat index — the combined effects of heat and humidity — exceeding 100 degrees. These conditions can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke for anyone working outdoors. The elderly, children and those with respiratory conditions are also vulnerable.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself and get your family through a New England heat wave safely:

Beach, Pool and Summer Camp

Enjoying the great outdoors is what summer is all about. But your health and safety – and that of your kids – is important, so be mindful of these things when planning outdoor time:

Heat Stroke can set in after prolonged exposure to heat to or physical exertion in high temperatures. Seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Flushed skin
  • Altered mental state or behaviors
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate

Swimming can be a nice relief from the heat and great physical activity but be sure to take the proper safety precautions when heading out into the water.

  • Swim in designated swimming areas supervised by lifeguards
  • Never swim alone
  • Do not leave children unattended by water.
  • Have the right equipment. Wear life jackets when operated boats or other watercrafts.
  • Protect your skin. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50. Limit time in direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Hydration is so important when spending time in the heat. Avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine in them while out in the sun as they can cause dehydration. Water is the best beverage of choice to beat the heat. Pack water bottles for children attending outdoor camps or activities.

Sunburn happens even on what seems like a cloudy or overcast day. Sunscreen, sunglasses and head protection are important for cancer protection throughout the lifetime.

Air Quality

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) regularly issues air quality advisories during the summer. That means that the air quality specialists at the DEEP have determined that certain weather patterns are creating elevated ground-level ozone pollution in parts of Connecticut. This happens mainly when temperatures and humidity rise.

When such an advisory is issued, it’s important that children, older adults and those with respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD or emphysema limit their time outdoors during these days. Poor air quality can cause or make respiratory issues more problematic by causing difficulty breathing, coughing and throat irritation.

If you must exercise, the DEEP says that peak ozone levels occur from noon to 8 p.m., so that exercising outside of these hours is a good idea.