What is so important about staying cool?
With the rising temperatures of the mid-summer heat, it is becoming more and more important to consider the dangers of staying outside. Over 700 people die each year due to heat related illness in the United States. People over the age of 65 are at higher risk of coming down with heat related illness. There are many reasons that cause heat related illness, but they are all related to how your body can dissipate heat in the higher temperatures including:
- heart disease
- poor circulation
- prescription drug use
How can those at highest risk be protected?
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness and death. If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
- Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling device during an extreme heat event.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
What if I cannot avoid going outside in the heat?
- Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
What are the symptoms of heat related illness?
The warning signs of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke include:
- muscle pain or spasms
- heavy sweating
- cold, pale clammy skin
- fast, weak pulse
- nausea or vomiting
- tiredness or weakness
If your or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms during or after being outside in the heat, seek immediate medical attention.