With record high temperatures in the forecast, residents need to take steps to avoid heat-related illnesses and care for people who may be suffering from heat-induced illnesses.
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When the weather is hot, your body works overtime trying to stay cool. Excess heat escapes through protective mechanisms (such as perspiring), leading to uncomfortable and often times harmful symptoms. Heat problems are preventable with the proper precautions. Be aware and enjoy the warm weather.
The fire department in Salem, Ore., offers the following tips:
• 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
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
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.
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:
• 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.
• 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