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How to Help Your Kids Deal With Hot School Days

How to Help Your Kids Deal With Hot School Days | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

When I think of school starting, I still imagine red and orange leaves and cool temperatures; it wasn’t that long ago that we thought of fall as schooltime.

Not so today. Many kids in the United States are meeting their new teachers right now, in early August—one of the hottest months of the year. If you have children, do they know how to deal with the heat on their own, on the playground, sports field, or school bus?

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4 Tips to Survive and Adapt to the Heat

4 Tips to Survive and Adapt to the Heat

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Big news for the Northern Hemisphere. Summer will officially be here June 21. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m a little early (or late). You might want to take a look at my cold-weather posts. But for us northerners, the heat is on.

For as long as I’ve practiced medicine, whether in Mississippi or Colorado, I’ve known that in those first few hot days I’ll be treating some otherwise healthy people for heat-related problems. In fact, just the other day, I saw a man in his early 20s with chest pain, headache, and just feeling awful. He’d been working on a roof. He’s done it for years with no problem. But around here, it suddenly went from a daytime high in the mid-70s to a high in the low 90s. He hadn’t had time to acclimate.

Fortunately, he got out of the heat as soon as the symptoms hit. With some water and cooling off, he was feeling fine in a few hours.

Probably, in a few weeks he’ll be working in the same temperature with no such symptoms. Why?

He’ll be acclimated.

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My 15 Ultimate Beat-the-Heat Tips (Bet You Haven’t Heard Them All)

My 15 Ultimate Beat-the-Heat Tips (Bet You Haven't Heard Them All!) | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

In the Deep South right now, it’s about heat wave time, otherwise known as the season of year when you step outside and right into a sauna. I know because I grew up in Mississippi.

If you also grew up in an area that gets really hot, you may think you know everything there is to know to beat the heat. But you haven’t read this post! I bet I can surprise you—at least once?

Even people used to working in the heat all day can suffer dangerously come that first heat wave—when the temperature and humidity suddenly soars 5–10 degrees or hotter. And imagine having to be outside after a disaster or while stranded in the wilderness, with no chance for air conditioning.

Here are some Survival Doctor tips, facts, answers and more—all to help you beat the heat.

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What I Learned As a Lifeguard Could Save Your Child From Drowning

Two things The Survival Doctor learned when he was a lifeguard that could save your child from drowning.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

When I was a teen I lifeguarded, first at the public pool, then at a lake. Here are two things I learned:

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“Sunscreen Causes Cancer”: Truth or Fiction?

"Sunscreen Causes Cancer": Truth or Fiction? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

I didn’t realize until a few days ago how prevalent the view is—at least on the Internet—that sunscreen causes cancer. Many people state the claims of dangers as given facts. And they say organizations like the American Medical Association stand behind them. (Not true. I don’t know of any mainstream medical organization that recommends against sunscreen when you’re in the sun.)

The truth matters here. Because not even the fiercest critics of sunscreen debate against the fact that absorbing too many UV rays from the sun is a big risk factor for skin cancer.

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Pop Quiz: Do You Know How to Survive the Heat?

Pop quiz: Do you know how to survive the heat? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH


First question: What natural phenomenon kills more people in the United States than all other disasters combined?

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Spring Survival Quiz

Spring Survival Quiz | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Springtime. It always reminds me of the cycle of life, rebirth, new beginnings. And, of course, it’s a time to get outside, to hike, camp, play … and spring clean.

This is the first of a two-part true/false spring quiz to help you get you prepared for all of the above. In the comments, let me know how you do!

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Going to the Pool? Watch Your Kids—Even With a Lifeguard

children at a pool

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

I worked as a lifeguard when I was a teen. Great job, usually. The Fourth of July was always an exception—so crowded. There was no way to keep up with everyone in the water.

I basically hoped (prayed) that if someone started drowning, a person close by would shout, really loudly, above all the other shouting. Because, contrary to popular belief, a drowning victim usually doesn’t throw up their hands and shout, “Help, I’m drowning!” Usually they don’t shout anything. They’re doing all they can to stay afloat and gasp for breath. Sure, they may be splashing like crazy. But everyone was splashing like crazy.

Then there are those who just silently go under.

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How to Keep a Heat Rash from Turning Dangerous

heat rash on the back

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Believe it or not, I grew up in Mississippi and didn’t know what prickly heat was until I started my practice. In medical training we didn’t concern ourselves with such trivialities. But in real life prickly heat, or a heat rash, can be quite an itchy, prickly nuisance. Many people came to see me for this, and I learned how to recognize it pretty fast. And the heat-rash remedies? They haven’t really changed in those thirty years.

So why, in a survival medicine blog, should I even bring it up? Because in summer disaster situations, with less bathing and no air-conditioning, heat rashes are bound to be more common, and more likely to become serious skin infections. They can even make you more prone to heatstroke. Here’s why.

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What to Do for Heatstroke When You Can’t Get Help

Man cooling off in an inflatable pool

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Many years ago, before many of you were born, I trained at a large Dallas hospital. In the summers, the ambulances carried tubs of ice, and if they picked up someone with probable heatstroke, they’d start to ice them then and there.

I don’t know if they still do that, but heatstroke continues to be an emergency, killing hundreds each year and leaving many more disabled. And cooling remains the top priority in treatment.

Heatstroke Warning Signs

In order to know what to do, you need to be able to recognize the warning signs of heatstroke (also called sunstroke). With heatstroke your vital organs shut down. Many people even stop sweating. It’s like your body has given up (or burned out).

One of the first organs that shows damage is the brain. Therefore, many of the signs and symptoms of heatstroke are related to brain function, such as:

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