DSCF0122                If you become physically over-heated, it may be lethal. Early symptoms alert you to the onset of heat-stroke or hypothermia with feelings of exhaustion and you crave water from being dehydrated (9). The elderly, children, athletes, military personnel, and those that have jobs that place them outdoors in stressful conditions, beware. Construction workers, farmers, and miners must take precautions. You are more susceptible to this treatable illness if you have recently had an infection, such as pneumonia or influenza (2). This heat related illness may find you while involved in physical activities or become overwhelmed by the conditions found in your environment. If you are feeling any threats of heat-stroke, seek medical attention immediately.

            You are unique by how much heat you produce when involved in physical activities, such as running (1). Monitoring your body temperature allows you to take action to prevent death. Anyone can be plagued with heat-stroke when your body temperature reaches 104° Fahrenheit. Due to the dangers of heatstroke, traditional heart rate and rectal temperature checks were used to gauge your body’s heat strain. Non-invasive techniques are becoming trendy to judge the nature of the body, such as skin temperature sensor with heat-flux sensor (3) and urine thermometers (5).

There are preventions you may take to ensure your safety when physically active. You may foster your well-being by drinking water frequently, take a 5 minute time-out in the shade, and do the research on the environmental conditions you choosing to embrace (8). If critical action is needed, relief may be found by being dowsed or immersed in cold water to help lower your body temperature (7). Remember to practice the buddy system and let someone know of your plans.  

Environmental conditions are changing and prolonged or extreme temperatures and humidity puts you at risk to hypothermia. Climate change and urban ecosystems may cause havoc to your well-being. Worldwide temperatures are rising due to climate changing conditions and scientific inquiry lets you know that “excessive daily heat exposure” has a direct effect on heat stroke (6).

The Environmental Protection Agency describes the urban ecosystem as a dynamic landscape designed with both human built and natural elements. The human built elements tend to capture and reradiate the sun’s energy to create an Urban Heat Island effect. Large amounts of air pollution is generated and, with an atmospheric inversion, the haze of pollution is suppressed within the cities. These conditions create extreme heat events. The outcome of heat-waves include anxiety, stress, dehydration, exhaustion, increased mortality, and realized mental disorders.

Your activities results in releasing heat into the environment through transportation, food choices, and energy demands. Concrete and asphalt urban land cover leaves you with a haze of polluted air and increasing day and nighttime temperatures. These environmental conditions offers a one-way road to heatstroke (4).

There are remedies that may be used to combat the Urban Heat Island effect. Take immediate action to prevent climate change by transitioning towards renewable energy sources, be involved in energy efficient strategies, re-invent food ecosystems, and redesign urban infrastructure.

Invigorating an urban environment with green space decrease daytime temperatures. Trees, shrubs, and grasses shade the surfaces that absorb heat, release moisture into the air, filter and sequester atmospheric pollution. There is less of a demand for energy used in cooling buildings. Green walls, roofs, and patios spice up buildings. Community gardens, parks, and hanging baskets flavor the urban ecosystem. The presence of the living green critters infuses your world with a solar-powered air processing system that appeals to the senses and restores life into your ecosystem for increased well-being.

Hypothermia is one of the leading causes of death to individuals that are involved in outdoor and strenuous activities. Children and elderly may not be able to escape the symptoms of life-threatening rising body temperatures. Taking an active role in being informed about how your life choices and environmental conditions may pose a risk to your well-being is essential to prevent heat illnesses. Climate changing conditions and Urban Heat Island effect increases your risk of heat stroke. You may be a dynamic partner in a dance of well-being through responsible, conscious life choices and greening up your ecosystem. Create the life that supports your joy.

Elizabeth Armstrong, Ph.D.


1 Arsac, Laurent, Veronique Deschodt-Arsac, and Jean-René Lacour. 2013. Influence of individual energy cost on running capacity in warm, humid environments. European Journal of Applied Physiology. Vol. 113:10. Pgs. 2587-2594.

2 Carter III, Robert, Samuel N. Cheuvront, and Michael N. Sawka. 2007. A Case Report of Idiosyncratic Hyperthermia and Review of U.S. Army Heat Stroke Hospitalizations. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. Vol. 16:3. Pgs. 238-243

3 Gunga, Hanns-Christian, Mariann Sandsund, Randi E. Reinertsen, Frank Sattler, and Jochim Koch. 2008. A non-invasive device to continuously determine heat strain in humans. Journal of Thermal Biology. Vol.33:5. Pgs. 297-307.  

4 Huang, Hong, Ryozo Ooka, and Shinsuke Kato. 2005. Urban thermal environment measurements and numerical simulation for an actual complex urban area covering a large district heating and cooling system in summer. Atmospheric Environment. Vol. 39:34. Pgs. 6362-6375.

5 Kawanami, Shoko, Seichi Horie, Jinro Inoue, and Makiko Yamashita. 2012. Urine temperature as an index for the core temperature of industrial workers in hot or cold environments. International Journal of Biometeorology. Vol. 56:6. Pgs. 1025-1031.

6 Kjellstrom, T and A.J. McMichael. 2013. Climate change threats to population health and well-being: the imperative of protective solutions that will last. Global Health Action. Vol. 6. Pg. 20816.

7 Mazerolle, Stephanie M., Danielle E. Pinkus, Douglas J. Casa, Brendon P. McDermott, Kelly D. Pagnotta, Roberto C. Ruiz, Lawrence E. Armstrong, and Carl M. Maresh. 2011. Evidence-Based Medicine and the Recognition and Treatment of Exertional Heat Stroke, Part II: A Perspective From the Clinical Athletic Trainer. Journal of Athletic Training. Vo. 46:5. Pgs. 533-542.

8 Petitti, Diana B., Sharon L. Harlan, Gerardo Chowell-Puente, and Darren Ruddell. Occupation and Environmental Heat-Associated Deaths in Maricopa County, Arizona: A Case-Control Study. PLOSONE. Vol. 8:5. E62596.

9 United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2013. Eco-Health Relationship Browser.

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