Don't let the heat have you beat!

Tips for staying healthy and cool in summer

 

Sunny day.

Source: MorgueFile.com

If you plan on being out and about in summer, chances are you’ll be exposed to a lot of sun and higher temperatures.

Each year, heat kills 1,500 people on average in the United States — more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning, or any other weather event combined.

“Heat can be a silent killer because it doesn’t topple trees or rip roofs off houses like tornadoes and hurricanes,” says Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services with NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Nevertheless, it’s a dangerous weather condition for which people should prepare.”

How much heat can a person safely endure? It depends.

Certain groups of people should be especially careful during hot weather conditions. For example, city-dwellers and those living in the upper floors of tall buildings or in heat-prone regions are most at-risk for heat-related illness. People who have difficulty getting around or who have health conditions are particularly susceptible. The elderly and the very young also merit special attention during periods of high heat and humidity.

The National Weather Service and the  Occupational Safety and Health Administration have partnered again this year to increase awareness for outdoor workers and their employers during excessive heat events.  As part of this effort, the National Weather Service will incorporate specific outdoor worker safety precautions when heat advisories and warnings are issued.

By taking some precautions, you can stay healthy while enjoying the great outdoors this summer:

1. Be informed and stay alert

Pay close attention to heat advisories or warnings that have been issued for your community.

2. Plan for periods of extreme heat

Child at beach.

Source: MorgueFile.com

3. Know what to do and what not to do during hot weather

However, please remember:

4. Know the warning signs of heat-related illness

Excessive heat exposure can raise your body temperature to unhealthy levels and may make you ill — it can also be deadly. Take the precautions listed above and be on the lookout for these warning signs that you may be in trouble:

Symptom Likely Condition Treatment
Painful muscle cramps and spasms, usually in muscles of legs and abdomen. Heavy sweating. Heat cramps

Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm.

Give sips of water; if nausea occurs, discontinue water intake.

Consult with a clinician or physician if individual has fluid restrictions (e.g., dialysis patients).

Heavy sweating, weakness,
cool skin, pale and clammy. Weak pulse. Normal temperature possible. Possible muscle cramps, dizziness, fainting, nausea and vomiting.
Heat exhaustion

Move individual out of sun, lay him or her down, and loosen clothing.

Apply cool, wet cloths.

Fan or move individual to air conditioned room.

Give sips of water; if nausea occurs, discontinue water intake.

If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention. Consult with a clinician or physician if individual has fluid restrictions (e.g., dialysis patients).

Altered mental state. Possible throbbing headache, confusion, nausea and dizziness. High body temperature (106°F or higher). Rapid and strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Skin may be hot and dry, or patient may be sweating. Sweating likely especially if patient was previously involved in vigorous activity.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency.

Summon emergency medical assistance or get the individual to a hospital immediately.

Delay can be fatal.

Move individual to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.

Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or sponging.

Use air conditioners. Use fans if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. Use extreme caution.

Remove clothing. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do not give fluids.

Source: Heat Guide Book, Environmental Protection Agency

*Please note: This information is not a substitute for expert medical care. If you should experience any of the above symptoms, seek medical assistance/advice immediately.

To learn more about heat-related illnesses, please see:

Posted June 19, 2012 NOAA logo.