Heat can be deadly: What you need to know to survive

EUGENE, Ore. - Forecasts call for extreme heat this week, with temperatures approaching 100 F posing a threat to public health.

Learn more about:

Symptoms of heat-induced illness

Symptoms of heat stroke

Caring for a victim of heat stroke

Who is most at risk for heat-related illnesses

The Do's and Don'ts for hot weather

Current weather conditions and forecast

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat watch for western Oregon from Thursday afternoon through Friday evening.

Temperatures will range from the 90s to 100 degrees in the Willamette Valley, challenging record highs of 101 on Aug. 16 and 97 on Aug. 17.

Forecasters cautioned that physical activity like exercise or work in extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments," the weather service said. "Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency: call 9-1-1."

In many ways, extreme heat is like a natural disaster. In fact, heat kills more Americans every year than earthquakes, lightning, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Efforts to beat the heat can also prove dangerous.

Many of the fatalities during hot spells in the Pacific Northwest occur in and around
water," the weather service said. "Use extra caution around area waterways and be sure to wear a life jacket."

Symptoms of Heat-Induced Ailments

• Dehydration – thirst, less frequent urination

• Prickly heat bumps - irritating skin rash

• Cramps - painful muscle contractions

• Edema – swelling of hands and feet

• Exhaustion / Fatigue – characterized by clammy skin, paleness, dizziness, nausea, fever, and headache

 

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Seek immediate medical help if you or someone else develops the following symptoms. Heat Stroke is the most severe heat illness and is a life-threatening situation.

• Lethargy, sluggishness

• Rapid heart rate and breathing

• Confusion, disorientation, agitation, irritability

• High body temperature

• Intense muscle aches, fever, diarrhea or nausea

• Convulsing, fainting, seizure, loss of consciousness

 

HEAT STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY – CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY

Caring for a Heat Stroke Victim Until Help Arrives

While you are waiting for help to arrive you can assist the person by doing the following:

• Get the person out of the heat to a cooler environment. Take them indoors if possible.

• Fan the person with a newspaper or towel to cool the body.

• Loosen or remove clothing and sprinkle the skin lightly with water.

• Elevate feet to direct blood flow back toward the head.

• If available, apply icepacks to the groin area or armpits.

 

Risk of Heat Related Illness

Some people are at greater risk than others to suffer heat-related illness:

• Infants and young children

• People aged 65 and older

• Those persons who are physically ill, or have heart disease or high blood pressure

• Those persons who must work in / wear protective equipment: helmets, respirators, heavy clothing

How to Beat the Heat – The Do's and Don'ts:

Do

• Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries

• Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air

• Take a cool bath or shower

• Minimize direct exposure to the sun

• Stay hydrated – regularly drink water or other nonalcoholic fluids

• Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads

• Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes

• Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat

• Limit exercise to moderate activity and rest whenever necessary

• Exercise during cooler periods of the day such as the early morning or late evening hours

• Consult your health care provider or pharmacist to see which medicines are affected by excessive heat conditions

• Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

Don't

• Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°f

• Leave children, the elderly or pets alone in cars for any amount of time

• Drink alcohol, or drinks that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar to try to stay cool

• Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods

• Wear heavy, dark clothing

• Exert yourself excessively