Face Masks

Summer Heat Poses Health Concerns When Wearing Face Coverings

Summer is officially here and amid the pandemic many people are getting outside more often and for longer periods of time.

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The muggy dog days of summer can be uncomfortable under normal circumstances. Add a face covering to the equation, and it can really be difficult to breathe at times. And for some, it can be dangerous.

"If you have an underlying medical condition one - you should be staying home and trying to socially isolate as much as possible,” explained Kevin Ferrarotti, director of EMS Network Development at Hartford HealthCare. “And if the heat and humidity rise that's a good indication that you should just take a breather and come inside."

When we wear masks, we're exhaling hot air and then re-inhaling that same air, making our bodies more prone to signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, things like excessive sweating, dizziness, and dehydration. Later signs are shortness of breath, blurry vision, and feeling like you may pass out.

"That's your time to come inside to an air-conditioned environment, take a breather," said Ferrarotti.  “Obviously if the difficulty breathing persists, or worsens that's your point of calling 911."

Heat-related emergency calls have already increased with the return of hot summer weather.

"Obviously it's bad because we don't want to see anyone get sick or injured and we would love to not have anyone call 911 but it's also a good problem because it shows that people are starting to trust their emergency departments more and trust their EMS system and their 911 system."

As the forecast heats up, keep in mind that lighter color masks will absorb less heat than dark colors. And remember, you want your mask to fit comfortably over both your nose and your mouth but you should always be able to properly breathe.

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