Special Precautions Should Be Taken When Outside in the Heat
Wishard Health Services encourages the public to take it easy during record heat blast
Contact: Todd Harper
Phone: (317) 630-7808
Pager: (317) 310-5972
, June 27, 2012 -- With record heat forecasted for Central Indiana over the next two days, Wishard Health Services
is encouraging the public to take extra precautions to avoid becoming overcome by the warm temperatures.
Last year, over 200 fatalities were reported in the United States due to heat-related injuries and illnesses. By taking some time to plan and prepare for a day in the heat, one can reduce the risk of becoming another statistic. Before heading out into the heat and sun this summer, people should know the facts about the dangers high temperatures can bring.
"It is important to wear light clothing, drink plenty of fluids, restrict activities to the cooler times of the day and be aware that those with multiple medical problems and the elderly are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses," said Dr. Rawle A. Seupaul, an emergency medicine physician at Wishard Health Services
and associate professor for the IU School of Medicine.
The clothing recommended by Dr. Seupaul should be light in weight as well as light in color. The best fluids to drink to prevent dehydration are water and sports drinks, and one should try to re-hydrate every 15 to 20 minutes. It is best to steer clear of alcohol and fluids with caffeine such as tea, coffee, and soda when temperatures are dangerously high. Health professionals also say that using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher is a great way to stay safe during the summer.
Heat-related injuries affect thousands of Americans each year and can be serious if people do not protect themselves while outdoors. Unlike other natural hazards, heat strains the human body beyond its expected abilities. Heat cramps, the mildest form of illness due to heat, happen during or after intense exercise and sweating in high temperatures. Symptoms include painful cramps, especially in the legs; flushed, moist skin; mild fever (usually less than 102 degrees); and heavy sweating. The first aid response to heat cramps includes applying firm pressure on cramping muscles, gently massaging the muscles to relieve spasms, resting and re-hydrating with fluids.
A more serious problem, heat exhaustion, results from a loss of water and salt in the body from perspiration. Symptoms include muscle cramps; pale, moist skin; fever over 102 degrees; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; headache; fatigue; weakness; anxiety; faint feeling; and heavy sweating. People should quickly respond to those suffering from these symptoms by getting the person out of the sun, having him or her lie down and loosening the person’s clothing, applying a cool wet cloth to the head and fanning or moving the person to an air conditioned room.
Heat stroke, the most severe and fatal form of illness due to heat, occurs when the body’s heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat. Victims will experience hot, dry skin; fever over 104 degrees; a rapid heart rate; possible unconsciousness; loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting; headache; and fatigue. Emergency medical assistance must be obtained or the victim must be taken to a hospital immediately; a delay can be fatal. Someone experiencing a heat stroke can be moved to a cool environment and given a cool bath or sponged with cool water until help arrives. As with any medical emergency, doctors recommend calling 911 immediately.