FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 8, 2013) - Summer is a beautiful time of year; however, we should always be aware of the associated dangers lurking around the corner.Heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash are serious conditions and are the body's way of signaling you are overheating. The human brain actually begins to die when the body's core temperature is not kept at equilibrium. Every year, thousands of people die from heat-related illnesses/injuries. But here's what astonishes me: Almost all heat illnesses/injuries are preventable. Folks just need to prepare for the elements and do thorough prior planning before engaging in activities in hot weather.Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness/injury that most often develops after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced fluid replacement. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and individuals working or exercising in a hot environment.Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, pale skin, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and fainting. When someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, the skin often will be cool and moist or clammy. A high pulse rate and fast, shallow breathing are also cues. In extreme cases, the skin will be warm and dry. When this happens, the individual is at risk for heat stroke.Staying hydrated is the most important thing a person can do to avoid the dangers of the sweltering summer sun. Both in Alabama, where it is humid, and Arizona, where it is dry, hot air and the sun will suck moisture right from your body. The skin is the body's largest organ, and it's in the most danger from the sun's powerful rays. Sunscreen will protect your skin from the damaging ultraviolet exposures, and sunglasses will protect your vision.Do not take the summer lightly. It is important that during these nice, sunny days you remember how easy it is to become dehydrated. If you are thirsty, get something to drink. Don't forget to protect yourself from the heat, and always prepare before setting out for a day outdoors.