HEAT RISKS: Staying Healthy In The Heat

Posted on: 1:51 pm, August 26, 2013, by , updated on: 02:02pm, August 26, 2013

heat_wave

Our bodies are not used to the extreme temperatures that we will be exposed to the next few days.

The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for the whole state through Tuesday evening and for Polk County an Excessive Heat Warning during that time frame. What this advisory and warning means is that temperatures will range from 95 to 100 each afternoon and evening and heat index values (the way it actually feels) will be anywhere from 100 to 110 each afternoon and evening. Overnight, there is not even much relief as the humidity will stay high and the temperatures will only drop to the 70s.

When exposed to the heat for a prolonged period of time, heat illness can occur. The most susceptible to heat illness are babies and young children, as well as the elderly. Those with a compromised immune system are also at risk.

The types of heat illness that we watch for our heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • cool moist skin
  • heavy sweating
  • faintness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • weak, rapid pulse
  • nausea
  • headache

If you or someone you’re with begins to experience any of these symptoms, you should stop whatever activity you are doing, move to a cool place, and drink cool water or a sports drink.

Heat stroke is the next step up. Heat exhaustion can worsen and become heat stroke.

Signs that heat stroke is occuring are:

  • a high body temperature
  • lack of sweating
  • flushed skin
  • rapid breathing
  • racing heart rate
  • headache
  • muscle cramps

If any of these symptoms occur, your condition could be life threatening. Stop your activity, go to an air conditioned building, and drink cold water. Do not submerge the person in cold water. If there is no improvement, call 911 or get the person to the hospital immediately.

There are some ways that you can prevent heat illness for yourself and those around you.

  • reschedule strenuous activities for the early morning
  • know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
  • wear light and loose fitting clothes
  • drink plenty of water
  • stay in the air conditioning or shade
  • do not leave pets outside for extended periods of time
  • do not leave children or pets in cars
  • check on elderly neighbors and family

It is best not to be in an non air conditioned location for the entire stretch of a heat wave. Your body needs a few hours of air conditioning exposure to help regulate your body temperature. If you do not live in a place with air conditioning, spend some time (especially during the hottest parts of the day between noon and 8 PM) at an air conditioned location like the mall or library or other cooling centers that may be set up during heat waves.

For more information on our current weather and the weather to come, visit the weather page here.