Exposure to extreme heat can create serious health problems, resulting in a condition known as heatstroke. Usually the elderly, the very young, those with other health conditions, and those without access to air conditioning or a source for hydration are most severely affected by heat.
Symptoms of heat exposure complications:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Weak, but rapid pulse
At first symptoms of heat-related complications, move to a cooler place, rest a few minutes, then slowly drink a beverage, preferably water, for rehydration.
Seek medical attention immediately if conditions do not improve.
Symptoms of heatstroke:
If fluids are not replaced soon enough, heatstroke can follow, causing:
- Extremely high body temperature
- Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Brain damage
- Loss of consciousness
How to help a person showing severe symptoms:
- Get the victim out of the sun and heat.
- Call for emergency medical services.
- Immediately begin cooling the person with cool/cold water and fanning.
Staying in an air-conditioned area, either at home or in a public place such as a mall, library or recreation center, is the most effective way to combat heat. If air conditioning is not available:
- Pull the shades over the windows and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Limit the use of stoves and ovens.
Children are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Children should be encouraged to drink fluids frequently, especially water, and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
Check on children often, especially if they are outside in high temperatures.
Other heat precautions:
- Never leave people or pets in a closed, parked vehicle during hot weather, even for a short time.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Hydrate before going out into the heat.
- Plan strenuous outdoor activity for early morning or evening when temperatures may be lower.
- Take frequent breaks when working outside.
- Wear sun block, hats, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
- Dress infants in the same manner you would dress yourself. Avoid heavy clothing and blankets in hot weather. Ensure infants are well hydrated. Breast or bottle feed more often when in hot environments.
- Check frequently on the elderly and those who are ill or may need help.
Check with a doctor about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription drugs, especially diuretics, antibiotics, or antihistamines.