Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Summer Heat Precautions

During a heat wave the body has to work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. Excessive heat can result in serious health threats by pushing the human body beyond its limits. Young children, elderly people, and those who are sick or overweight are most at risk.

Measures for Preventing Heat Related Illnesses

NEVER leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.
Avoid too much sun.
Plan outdoor games and activities for early morning or evening.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Stay indoors as much as possible; use fans or air conditioners to cool the air.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that will cover as much skin as possible.
Protect face and head by wearing a wide brimmed hat.
Drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty, and avoid alcoholic beverages.
Hot Weather Health Emergencies

Heat cramps: Painful spasms, mostly in legs and abdomen, usually the result of heavy exertion and heavy sweating.

Recognizing Heat Cramps
Painful spasms usually in the legs and abdominal muscles that may occur in association with strenuous activity.

What to do
Apply firm pressure to cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasms. Replace fluids. Consult your health care provider.

Heat exhaustion: Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating.

Recognizing Heat Exhaustion
Heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin. Weak pulse. Fainting and vomiting possible.

What to do
Lie down in a cool place. Loosen clothing. Apply cool wet cloths. Fan or move person to air-conditioned place. Take sips of water. Consult your health care provider.

Heat stroke: A medical emergency- the body's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. Sunstroke: Another term for heat stroke.

Recognizing Heat Stroke
High body temperature (106+). Hot, dry skin. Rapid, strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Individual will likely not sweat.

What to do
Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or emergency medical services or get the person to a hospital immediately. Move to a cooler environment. Try a cool bath or sponging to reduce body temperature. Use fans and/or air conditioners, to cool the body. DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS.

Additional Resources

Federal Emergency Management Agency
American Red Cross
National Weather Service
Centers for Disease Control
DPH Seasonal Fact Sheet - Spring/Summer


Angela Ward said...

This is perfect timing on this post, as the temperatures are rising and we are approaching summer.

I would like to add another note about sun safety. It's not only the heat that can cause damage, but the UV rays as well. Always make sure to use sunscreen!!!!

Never let a child in the sun without applying sunblock first!!

Melanoma Cancer is the most aggresive and deadly form of skin cancer and even those that do not "lay out" in the sun often, are at great risk, especially if they have fair or sensitive skin.

The sun is a glorious part of nature that is required for everyone's exsistance and serves as a wonderful therapy for many, but like everything else in life, should be enjoyed in moderation and with appropriate caution.

Three important additions to your day in the sun:

1- A cool, shady place to rest when you get a little overheated

2- Plenty of Water

3- Sunscreen

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