Heat Precautions

We are just a few days from the official start of summer and that early arrival of heat that we're used to in the later months is causing serious risks for many people.

People with health problems, as well as the elderly and young children, are more vulnerable to dehydration than others, but we are all at risk if we over do it in the summer sun.

Health officials said the body just can't quickly adapt to severe weather.

Fatigue, nausea, dizziness, thirst, shallow breathing and profuse sweating are telltale signs.

Experts said the best way to play it safe in the heat is to drink more than you are thirsty for and listen to your body.

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Dehydration and Heat Stroke

What is dehydration?

  • Dehydration can be a serious heat-related disease, as well as being a dangerous side-effect of diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

  • Children and persons above the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration.

Causes

  • Under normal conditions, we all lose body water daily through sweat, tears, urine and stool. In a healthy person, this water is replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.

  • When a person becomes so sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting or if an individual is overexposed to the sun, dehydration occurs.

  • This is caused when the body loses water content and essential body salts such as sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate and phosphate.

Symptoms

  • thirst
  • less-frequent urination
  • dry skin
  • fatigue
  • light-headedness
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • dry mouth with mucous membrane
  • increased heart rate and breathing

What is Heat Stroke?

  • Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency.

  • It is the result of long, extreme exposure to the sun, in which a person does not sweat enough to lower body temperature.

  • The elderly, infants, persons who work outdoors and those on certain types of medications are most susceptible to heat stroke.

Causes

  • Our bodies produce a tremendous amount of internal heat and we normally cool ourselves by sweating and radiating heat through the skin.

  • However, in certain circumstances, such as extreme heat, high humidity or vigorous activity in the hot sun, this cooling system may begin to fail, allowing heat to build up to dangerous levels.

  • If a person becomes dehydrated and can not sweat enough to cool their body, their internal temperature may rise to dangerously high levels, causing heat stroke.

Symptoms

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • disorientation, agitation or confusion
  • sluggishness or fatigue
  • seizure
  • hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • a high body temperature
  • loss of consciousness
  • rapid heart beat
  • hallucinations

Be Heat Smart

  • Never leave anyone, including animals, in a closed, parked vehicle during hot weather.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and juices, and avoid beverages, which contain alcohol, caffeine and large amounts of sugar.

  • Plan strenuous activities for early or late in the day when it is cooler; then, gradually build tolerance for warmer conditions.

  • Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible unless your heat tolerance is well-established. If air-conditioning is not available, use fans to cool rooms and pull shades over windows. Open windows on opposite sides of a room for cross-ventilation.

  • Eat more frequently, but make sure meals are well-balanced and light.

  • Consult with a physician to determine the effects of sun and heat exposure while taking prescription medications such as diuretics, antihistamines or mood-altering or antispasmodic drugs.

  • Remember that babies don't tolerate heat well because their sweat glands are not fully developed. Avoid bundling babies in heavy blankets or heavy clothing.

  • Check frequently on ill or elderly friends or relatives who may need your help.

  • At first signs of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, cramps), move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. If conditions do not improve, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Don't forget to protect your skin by wearing sun block at all times to minimize exposure to the sun's harmful rays.

Source: www.dimsionshealth.org contributed to this report


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