Heat Awareness

thermometer registring high heatThe body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken such as drinking water frequently and resting in the shade or air conditioning. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can result in death.

How can you beat the heat?

Hydrate: Whether you feel thirsty or not, drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated, especially when you're working or exercising outside.

Educate yourself: Keep up with the latest temperature and heat index forecasts and current readings (take actions to stay cool and safe when the temperatures hits 85 degrees or the heat index hits 90 degrees). Know the warning signs of a heat illness, and how you can stay cool.

Act quickly when a heat illness is suspected: Seek medical attention immediately for any of these warning signs: cramping, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, hot red skin, dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting.

Take it easy: Anyone working or exercising outdoors should avoid overexertion, especially between the hours of 11 am and 6 pm. Take breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.

According to the National Weather Service, heat waves have caused more deaths in the last ten years than any other weather hazard, including tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding.

  • Symptoms of a serious heat illness include cramps, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, hot red skin, headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Treatment of a heat illness should include getting the victim out of the heat, giving victims sips of cool water, placing cool wet cloths or ice packs on the victim's body (especially around the neck and under the arms), and seeking medical attention.
Other heat precautions include:
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle during hot weather, even for a short time.
  • Drink plenty of fluids but avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar. Start drinking fluids before going out into the heat.
  • Plan strenuous outdoor activity for early morning or evening when the temperature is lower.
  • Take frequent breaks when working outside.
  • Wear sun block, hats and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible.
  • Eat more frequently, but be sure meals are well balanced and light.
  • Don’t dress infants in heavy clothing or wrap them in blankets.
  • Check frequently on the elderly and those who are ill or may need help.
  • Check with a doctor about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription drugs, especially diuretics or antihistamines.
  • At first signs of heat illness – dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps – move to a cooler place, rest a few minutes, then slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if conditions do not improve.