Precautions to take during Heat Advisories
People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded and the body can no longer cool itself. As long as blood is flowing properly to the skin, extra heat from the body is pumped to the skin and removed by sweat evaporation. If fluids are not replaced soon enough, heat stroke can result, potentially leading to brain damage or death.
Symptoms of heat illness include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea, weak but rapid pulse and headaches. People with these symptoms should find shade, drink water slowly and make sure there is good ventilation.
Staying in an air-conditioned area, either at home or in a public place such as a mall, library or recreation center is the most effective way to fight heat. If air conditioning is not available, pull the shades over the windows and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms. A cool shower or bath also is an effective way to cool off. Limit use of stoves and ovens to keep home temperatures lower.
Other tips to avoid heat-related illness:
Never leave infants, children or pets inside a parked vehicle
Increase fluid intake, regardless of activity level. Don’t wait until thirsty to drink fluids; drink more liquid than one’s thirst indicates
Avoid "heat hangover." Continue to drink fluids even after strenuous activity. This will enable the body to maintain optimum hydration, and help prevent the after effects of heat exposure such as headaches and fatigue
Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar as they dehydrate the body
Avoid very cold beverages as they cause stomach cramps
Limit exercise or outdoor activity between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its peak intensity. If active during this time frame, drink a minimum of 16 to 32 ounces of water each hourSome medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, may increase the risk of heat related illness. Consult your physician if you have questions.
- Wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15. Apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, and re-apply as necessary
- Rest frequently in shady areas so that the body’s temperature has a chance to recover
- If unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, gradually increase the pace and limit exercise or work time
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing; sunglasses to protect the eyes; and a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade and keep the head cool
- Take special precaution with infants and young
Severe heat, often combined with the high humidity in much of the state during the summer, can create serious heath risks. The elderly, infants and those with certain chronic illnesses are especially at risk, especially if air conditioning is not readily available. Drought, caused by long periods of minimal rainfall, can lead to well failure in homes not served by municipal water, and can limit the ability of municipal systems to provide water because of low river and reservoir levels or well failure.
Drought also causes major problems in the agricultural community. Livestock (including horses and other pleasure animals) and fowl become stressed when water is not readily available, especially when a drought is made worse by high heat and humidity. Farmers also must turn to irrigation, when available, to grow crops.
Heat can affect anyone, but most at risk are the very young, very old and people with health problems.