Heat health: Simple steps to keep cool, minimize risk
As temperatures rise over the next few days, Washoe County Health District officials are reminding residents and visitors that heat-related illnesses can be deadly and are urging people to take precautions to avoid them.
There are simple steps people can take to keep risk at a minimum:
Drink Plenty of Fluids — Even If You Don’t Feel Thirsty
Increase your fluid intake regardless of your activity level.
During heavy exercise in hot weather, drink 2-4 glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour.
Stay Cool Indoors
The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air conditioned area.
If you do not have an air conditioner or evaporative cooling unit, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library for a few hours.
Stay Cool Outdoors
Plan activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening.
In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will keep the head cool.
While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area.
Monitor Those at High Risk
If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know anyone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your coworkers and have someone do the same for you.
If you are unaccustomed to working or exercising in hot weather, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually.
If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, stop all activity, get into a cool or shady area, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or feel faint.
Use Common Sense
Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car.
Bring your pets indoors with you to protect them.
Give your outdoor animals plenty of fresh water, leave the water in a shady area, and consider wetting the animal down.
Those at highest risk of heat-related illness are the very young the elderly, and those who must work outdoors in extremely high temperatures. Sudden rise in body temperature and dehydration can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. If not addressed quickly, brain damage or death can result.
“High temperatures like those we expect in the next few days and throughout the summer can have serious health consequences,” said Washoe County Interim Health Officer Kevin Dick.
“People can avoid lots of problems if they just use a little common sense such as: never leaving infants, children or pets in a parked car, as temperatures can soar rapidly and cause severe brain injury or even death; drinking plenty of fluids that don’t contain caffeine or alcohol (these cause dehydration); staying indoors preferably in an air-conditioned environment such as libraries or shopping malls; and, limiting strenuous activities between noon to 6 p.m., when temperatures tend to be highest.”
The Health District website has a list of important tips for avoiding heat-related illness as well as a list of symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion: http://www.washoecounty.us/health/ephp/iis/preventheat.html.
More heat-related information can also be found from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp.
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