By Mike Maloney/American Red Cross

The summer of 2015, along the Texas Coast, has provided residents with a deluge of water but now weather forecast display increased temperatures. For many people, neighborhood pools, lakes and coastal beaches currently serve as a sanctuary from the sun’s sizzle. Yet the truth of the matter is, from June through August, being outside for an extended period of time can be dangerous. Practicing heat safety isn’t an option for us, it’s a requirement.

Some of the general rules of thumb include:

– Drinking plenty of fluids – those that do not come with a cup sleeve or contain alcohol.

– Dressing the part – wearing loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

– Spreading sunscreen all over your skin as if you were a human peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

It can be frustrating having to change our “winter” habits, but it’s what needs to be done in order to keep you and your family out of harms way. For instance, instead of exercising during your lunch hour, save any outdoor activity for the morning or evening. Reason being, it limits your chance of suffering from heat exhaustion – a combination of exercise induced heat and fluid and electrolyte loss from sweating.

However it’s not just athletes that need to be careful. Heat Stroke (aka sunstroke), is another severe heat illness where a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself. This is commonly associated with warnings about leaving children or pets in cars as the inside temperature of a vehicle can quickly reach 120 degrees.

The best defense in all of this is – prevention. From wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to hanging out more in the shade, it’s the simplest things that cannot only keep you safe, but comfortable too. We often underestimate heat emergencies, yet it’s important not to forget the danger it poses. There are things in this world that we are unable to control, things that can be life threatening. It’s vital that we take responsibility for what we can manage, and serve as an example for others. By doing so we create better habits, as well as save lives.