Health professionals offer heat safety tips

Health professionals offer heat safety tips

POSTED: Monday, May 28, 2012 - 2:30pm

UPDATED: Monday, May 28, 2012 - 2:34pm

The hot sun has begun to show its strength as it beats down on our nation this week. The following are some heat safety tips to help you prepare for hot weather:

  • Never leave a child, elderly person or pet unattended in a motor vehicle, even with a window slightly open. On a typically sunny day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach potentially deadly levels within a few minutes.
  • When restraining children in a car that has been parked in the heat, check to make sure seating surfaces and equipment such as car seats and seat belt buckles are not overly hot.
  • Know the warning signs of heat stroke. These include an extremely high body temperature of above 103° F; red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.
  • Those at the greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants, children up to four years old, adults age 65 and older, people who are overweight, people who are ill and those on certain medications.
  • During hot weather drink more liquid than your thirst indicates. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffine because they will cause you to lose more fluid.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outdoors and continue to reapply periodically. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids.
  • Some medications can increase the risk of heat-related illness. The risk may increase for those using psychotropics (e.g. haloperidol or chlorpromazine), medications for Parkinson’s Disease because they can inhibit perspiration, and tranquilizers (e.g. phenothiazines, butyrophenones and thiozanthenes.)

To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high remember to keep cool and use common sense. Drink plenty of fluids, replace salts and minerals, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen, pace yourself, stay indoors in cool places, schedule outdoor activities carefully, use a buddy system to monitor those at risk and adjust to the environment.

 What to do if you see someone with the warning signs of a heat stroke:

  •  Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  •  Move the victim to a shady area.
  •  Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can – immerse the person in a cool shower or bath, spray with cool water from a garden hose, sponge the person with cool water, or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a wet sheet and fan him/her vigorously.
  •  Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°-102° F.
  •  Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.

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