Tips for Beating the Heat

9/11/2017

“Stay safe and healthy during hot weather. Know the signs of heat-related illness and the simple things you can do—like drinking plenty of water—to reduce your risk,” said Spokane Regional Health District health officer Dr. Bob Lutz.

Heat Exhaustion
The symptoms of heat exhaustion may include dizziness or lightheadedness, weakness, lack of coordination, headache and nausea. Sweating is usually increased, and so is thirst, but this may not occur early enough to get people to drink more fluids. Being exposed to high temperatures for too long can also cause muscle cramps and swelling in the feet or ankles.
 
What to do: Get out of the sun and cool off. Splash cool/cold water on yourself, remove excess clothing and most importantly, drink plenty of cool water or fluids (but not alcohol or caffeine).

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate medical help—it can be fatal. The most important symptom to look for is a change in how a person is thinking – confusion is often accompanied by an elevated core body temperature. Other symptoms may include lightheadedness, weakness, dry and flushed skin, and an increased pulse. These symptoms can quickly progress and represent a medical emergency.  
What to do: Call 911. Get the person out of the sun and heat and lay them down. Remove excess clothing and cool them as quickly as possible by applying ice or cold compresses to their neck, armpits and groin. If they are able to take in fluids, have them do so slowly, as nausea is common and vomiting may occur. Prompt medical attention is critical—people can die of heat stroke.

Other tips to avoid heat-related illness on hot days:

••Drink plenty of water or fruit and vegetable juices. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.

••Limit time outdoors, especially between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.

••Be careful about doing a lot of outdoor activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water or juice often, and watch for signs of illness.

••Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is preferable to dark colors. Cotton and "technical" clothing can be cooler than some synthetics.

••In homes without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air-conditioned place like a shopping mall, store, library, friend’s house, or the movies. Cool showers can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees -– it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.

Protecting Pets
Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) Director, Nancy Hill, reminds people, “The temperature does not need to reach hot summer heat temperatures to present an imminent danger to pets, especially pets in vehicles. Car temperatures rapidly increase and can overwhelm a pet in a very short time, and typically cracking a window or two is not enough.”
Anyone leaving a pet in a vehicle during warm weather may receive a $257 fine and/or criminal misdemeanor or felony charges for animal cruelty if the animal is harmed.
Hill also adds if a pet is an outside pet, “Remember to provide plenty of water and shelter from the sun.” SCRAPS offers dog houses for people who are in need and encourages people to keep pets indoors if possible.
 
For more information about avoiding heat-related illness, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control web page. More information can also be found at www.srhd.org, on Facebook or Twitter @spokanehealth.

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