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Cooling Centers and Staying Safe During the Summertime Heat
Staying Safe During the Summertime Heat
Exposure to excessive heat can cause illness, injury and death. Approximately 400 people die each year from exposure to heat due to weather conditions, and many more people die from health conditions that are worsened by exposure to excess heat. Most heat-related deaths occur during the summer months. The elderly, the very young, and people with chronic health problems are most at risk. Air conditioning is the leading protective factor against heat-related illness and death. By knowing who is at risk and what prevention measures to take, heat-related illness can be prevented (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
People suffering heatstroke can go from appearing normal to extremely ill in a matter of minutes. Victims may have hot, dry skin, a high body temperature of 106 degrees or more, an absence of sweat, and a rapid and strong pulse. Victims may become delirious or unconscious. Persons suffering from heatstroke need immediate medical attention.
Heat exhaustion is a milder illness that may take several days of high temperatures to develop. Victims may have pale, clammy skin and sweat profusely. They may feel tired, weak or dizzy and have headaches or sometimes cramps, but their body temperature will remain close to normal.
Here are some tips to help prevent health complications from excessive heat:
- Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Make sure children and the elderly are drinking water, and ensure that persons with mobility problems have adequate fluids in easy reach.
- If you do not have air conditioning, spend time in air-conditioned places such as libraries, movies, malls or other public buildings during the hottest hours of the day.
- Wear loose and light-colored clothing.
- Wear a hat when outdoors.
- Reduce physical activity or reschedule it for cooler times of the day.
- Don't leave children, a frail elderly or disabled person, or pets in an enclosed car as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels.
- Talk to your health care provider about any medicine or drugs you are taking. Certain medications can increase the risk of heat-related illness.
For more information on heat-related illness, click on any of the links below: