When July arrives, we're solidly into summer - the month brings sun, socializing, and, sometimes, stress. Here are five simple things you can do this month for your health. Check in every month here at Doc Gurley, and, by the end of the year, you'll have a tidy checklist of simple reminders to help keep your body's engine tuned and humming.
1) POP QUIZ: Question - What environmental event kills the most people? Is it earthquakes? Tornadoes? Hurricanes? Tsunamis? The answer may come as a surprise - it's heat. The European heat deaths of 2003 were a wake-up call for countries and individuals to be vigilant about the health effects of heat waves during the summer. How bad was it in 2003? - "in the first 20 days of August, heat had killed more than 14,800 people. During the peak of the heat, fatality rates topped 2,000 in a day." In total, over 52,000 Europeans died from heat in that summer. Clinically, humans are remarkably vulnerable at the upper ranges of our temperature tolerance. Our bodies live around 98.6 degrees. When it comes to outside temperatures, we can go way way way down the Fahrenheit scale (as long as we can keep adding layers). But if the temperature of our environment shifts just a few degrees above where our bodies live, we have a very hard time of it. Highs of 100 degrees, then 105, then 110 - people start to die, even healthy young people. Physiologically, when it comes to hot days, we don't have much margin for error. So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? First, be mindful of the temperature and its power to kill. Second, have a heat plan - know where to go to cool off, even during a rolling black-outs (malls, libraries, department stores, shaded community pools, etc.). Keep tabs on neighbors, distant family members, and particularly keep in mind those who are younger, older or on certain medications - they are the particularly vulnerable.