Friday, July 15, 2011 - 9:58am
An extended period of hot and humid weather will mean extra precautions for residents to stay safe and healthy.
Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, senior centers and other public buildings.
Older adults and young children are particularly susceptible to extreme heat. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
• To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:
• Drink plenty of cool fluids - alcohol and drinks with large amounts of sugar can actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps.
• Replace salt and minerals lost from heavy sweating with a sports beverage that can replace them.
• Wear appropriate clothing - lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting.
• Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids - protect yourself with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
• If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas so that your body's thermostat will have a chance to recover.
• If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
• When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.
• NEVER leave children or pets in cars - even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.
• Know the symptoms of heat disorders (heatstroke, heat exhaustion, cramping) and overexposure to the sun, and be ready to give first aid treatment.
• Consider the heat index when planning outdoor activities. A heat index of 105 degrees means the combination of heat and humidity puts individuals at serious risk for heat-related health concerns.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947