Beating the heat: Tips to stay coolEditor's Note: the following information was provided to Reminder Publications by the Longmeadow Board of Health.
Getting too hot can make you sick when your body can't compensate properly to cool off. Your body's ability to cool down in extremely hot weather is relative to the amount of humidity in the air and also personal factors. When the humidity is high, sweat won't evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use also play a role in whether a person can cool off in very hot weather.
People who are at the highest risk are the elderly, the very young and people with mental illness and chronic diseases.
Air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat related illness and death.
Symptoms of Heat Illnesses
Heat Exhaustion is a milder form of a heat-related illness that can occur over several days of exposure to very high temperatures and inadequate replacements of fluids.
It has many symptoms: fever, heavy sweating, fainting, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, clammy skin, ashen skin tone, and nausea. It is usually caused by overexertion and not drinking enough water.
Treatment consists of cooling your body, drinking adequate amounts of cool water or sports beverages and immediately lying down with your legs elevated. Adequate fluid replacement is essential.
Heat Stroke (Sunstroke) can be life threatening. It occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. Body temperature rises to 106 F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Immediate medical attention is required.
The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:
- An extremely high body temperature( above 103 F);
- Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating);
- Rapid, strong pulse;
- Rapid breathing;
- Lack of perspiration;
- Throbbing headache;
If you or someone you know displays any symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Stay Healthy When It's Hot
Listed below are some prevention tips for heat- related stress:
- Limit vigorous exercise or chores to early morning or late afternoon;
- Dress in light colored, loose-fitting clothes;
- Continually drink plenty of water or juice;
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol;
- If possible, remain indoors in the heat of the day;
- Seek an air conditioned environment. If you don't have air conditioning , consider visiting an air-conditioned mall, library or senior center.