According to the National Weather Service (NWS), high temperature is potentially dangerous to locals. Some may argue that schools should be closed and classes should be cancelled; however, cancelling classes does not solve or prevent heat-related illnesses or injuries. The dilemma is not that school is open, the issue comes from being unprepared.
Students have an individual responsibility to protect themselves from the heat. Heat-related illnesses include dehydration, exhaustion, cramps, syncope, rash and heat stroke. Youth, elderly and disabled are at greater risk for injury, however, these conditions can affect anyone.
Avoiding prolonged exposure to the weather by limiting time outdoors while on campus can diminish the potential danger. Those at greater risk of developing heat-related illnesses would benefit from remaining in cool, air-conditioned facilities. The library, cafeteria, and Student Services Building on campus are open to students looking to cool off during extreme temperatures.
According to research from the University of Connecticut, dehydration can alter mood, energy levels, and can cause cognitive function to decrease. Water is a necessity. The cafeteria, bookstore and vending machines on campus have bottled water available for students to purchase. But students should bring their own.
Limiting strenuous activity in extreme heat can put you at a lower risk for developing heat-related injuries. Consider avoiding unnecessary physical activity when the sun’s UV rays are strongest. This occurs when the sun is at it’s peak, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Sunscreen can maintain the integrity of skin health by preventing burns, rashes and skin-related cancers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sunscreen acts as a barrier between the skin and the sun’s harsh rays by absorbing and reflecting some of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation by providing protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine is a quick and easy way to help maintain the health of your skin.
Wearing weather-appropriate clothing to school can prevent over-heating and alleviate discomfort. According to the NWS, people are recommended to wear loose, lightweight and lightly-colored apparel. Dark clothing attracts the sun’s heat, while light-colored apparel reflects it away from the body.
Student health is a priority and should be taken seriously, but cancelling classes seems unnecessary during a heatwave. Taking simple, but crucial, steps to lower the risk of heat-related illness and injury is necessary and extremely important to the health of students. With so many options available to deal with this type of extreme weather, there is no dire need to cancel class as a response.