4 tips for surviving the early blast of hot and humid weather

Those most at risk for heat exhaustion are the elderly, children younger than 4 years old and those with chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and neurological disorders.

Despite the date on the calendar being June, the meteorologists are warning of a heat wave. Are you prepared for these hot and humid days?

“As temperatures are expected to rise so does your risk for heat exhaustion or heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke,” said Robert Couch, M.D., emergency medicine physician and medical director for the emergency department at Norton Audubon Hospital. “No matter what the outdoor activity may be, everyone needs to be aware of their body and protect themselves against the potential dangers associated with extreme heat.”

Experts recommend avoiding the heat altogether with these tips:

  1. If you have to be outside, try to do so early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature is lower and the sun is less intense.
  2. Take frequent breaks by going inside or under shade.
  3. Keep up your fluid intake. Drink before going outside and continue drinking once you’ve come back inside.
  4. Check on friends, neighbors and outdoor pets. Make sure they are in well-ventilated areas, have fans and access to cool drinking water.

The body begins to go into distress when it rises near 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately there are warning signs before you reach that point. If noticed, you can take action and start to lower the body’s core temperature.

Symptoms start out as dizziness, headache and feeling too weak to continue an activity. After that, more serious symptoms can include:

  • Heavy sweating or the other extreme of hot, dry skin
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramping
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Fainting

Those most at risk for heat exhaustion are the elderly, children younger than 4 years old and those with chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and neurological disorders.

If you or someone around you begins exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion, here’s what you should do:

  • Move to a cooler location, even if it is under shade, until moving indoors is an option
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Drink cool water
  • Apply cold, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible, including the head, neck and armpits
  • If the person is vomiting, seek medical attention immediately
  • Call 911 if symptoms persist or do not improve

Untreated heat exhaustion can escalate into heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness. Heat stroke is life-threatening.

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion or acting delirious
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

If someone around you appears to be experiencing heat stroke, call 911. While waiting for emergency medical services, here’s what you should do:

  • Immerse the person in cold water (35 to 39 degrees); continuously stir the water to maximize cooling
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the head, neck, armpits and groin
  • Mist the person with water while fanning air over him or her

 


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