Avoid heat exhaustion when temperatures soar
Residents are reminded how they can stay cool and beat the heat during high-temperature days. According to area health officials, all residents, especially persons who are young, elderly, have medical or mental health conditions, use medications that impede body temperature regulation, those who do not have air conditioning, those whose work requires outdoor activities and people who are socially isolated are encouraged to pay special attention to their health during heat waves.
“Common-sense” practices recommended by health officials include staying indoors as much as possible, specifically for young children and pets, as well as spending time in air conditioning as much as possible. Residents are additionally encouraged to avoid strenuous activities, drink plenty of fluids regardless of activity level, wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing, and to take a cool shower or bath to reduce body heat.
Health experts also suggest resting often in shady areas, eating light and cool foods, wearing sunglasses and applying sunscreen, and avoiding leaving food items in cars or outdoors, as they spoil quickly.
In addition, no pet or person should ever be left in a parked vehicle in extreme heat, even if the windows are open. Certain groups, including infants, young children, people over age 65 and anyone with a medical condition, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease or kidney disease, should be regularly checked on.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness could save lives, according to health officials, who recommend that residents familiarize themselves with medical conditions attributed to excessive heat exposure, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.
Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency and requires medical assistance immediately by dialing 911. If possible, the affected person should be moved into a cool or air-conditioned environment. Signs of heat stroke may include headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, high body temperature, difficulty breathing and a rapid pulse. Skin may also be hot and dry or the person may be sweating. Reduce the individual’s body temperature with air-conditioning, fanning, water sponging and remove clothing if necessary, and avoid giving them any fluids.
Heat exhaustion will give rise to heavy sweating, weakness and cool, pale, clammy skin. The person may experience muscle cramps, dizziness, fainting, nausea and vomiting. Although body temperature may be normal there will be a weak pulse. The person should be moved out of the sun into a cool environment and a cool, wet cloth applied to the body while they are lying down. The affected individual may be given sips of water until they are feeling better; however, if vomiting continues, medical attention must be sought.
Heat can also cause painful cramps and muscle spasms in the legs or abdomen. Heavy sweating may also be present. The affected person should be moved out of the heat into a cool environment and given a gentle massage on the muscles where cramping occurs. The individual may be given sips of water unless nausea occurs or there are fluid restrictions.