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Protect Yourself against Heat-Related Health Issues

PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST HEAT-RELATED HEALTH ISSUES

If recent temperatures in the area are any indication, this summer is going to be a hot one. Even a couple of hours in extreme heat can cause serious health problems.  Everyone should be careful in hot weather, especially elderly people, young children, and those who are overweight. Individuals using certain medications/substances or those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses have an increased risk of heat-related health problems.  If you have a concern about a medication you are taking or a condition you have, consult your physician.

 

RECOGNIZE THE WARNING SIGNS OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES:

HEAT CRAMPS:

Signs and Symptoms:  Occur because of loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Can cause muscle pains and spasms, but are not as serious as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

 

First Aid Treatment:   Get victim to a cool place and have him/her rest comfortably. Lightly stretch the cramped muscle. Give the person half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can worsen the condition.

HEAT EXHAUSTION:

Signs and Symptoms:  Milder form of heatstroke resulting from high temperatures and dehydration.  Symptoms include cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; weakness; muscle cramps; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. Body temperature may be near normal.

First Aid Treatment:  Get victim out of the heat and to a cool place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as sheets or towels. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink, making sure he/she drinks slowly - half a glass every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position and watch him/her for changes in condition.  Those on a low-sodium diet or with other health problems should contact a doctor.

HEAT STROKE:

Signs and Symptoms:  Onset of heatstroke can occur within minutes. Symptoms may include hot, red skin; fainting or passing out; disorientation; convulsions; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If the person is sweating from heavy work or exercise, his/her skin may be wet; otherwise it will feel dry.

First Aid Treatment:  Heat Stroke is life-threatening! Body temperature needs to be lowered FAST! Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place or a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around his/her body and fan the victim. Watch for signs of breathing problems.


 


HOT WEATHER TIPS:

  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices to prevent dehydration. Be aware that alcohol can impair the body's sweat mechanism, as can fairly common medications such as antihistamines and diuretics. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes.
  • Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade or by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • When possible, stay in air-conditioned areas. If your home is not air-conditioned, visit a friend or relative with air conditioning, or consider a visit to an air conditioned public place such as a movie theater, shopping mall, restaurant or public library. 
  • NEVER leave pets or young children in a car, even with the windows cracked.
  • Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily.
  • Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should, if possible, take short breaks when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
http://dhmh.maryland.gov/extremeheat/SitePages/Home.aspx

Maryland Emergency Management Agency
http://www.mema.state.md.us/MEMA/content_page.jsp?TOPICID=othernds

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/extremeheat/

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