Health Officials Offer Suggestions for Staying Cool in Hot Weather
Galveston County & Cities – Extreme summer heat has arrived early which means it is also time to take health precautions to avoid heat illness; that is why officials with the Galveston County Health District urge everyone to use caution and common sense when dealing with the recent extreme temperatures.
The elderly, the very young, those who are sick and those without access to air conditioning are most severely affected by heat. Children left in closed vehicles, even for a short period of time, are also at great risk.
Perspiration normally cools people. But high temperatures and high humidity can overwork the body. Dehydration and heat illness can result if a person does not replace fluids lost during perspiration. Heat illness may even lead to death.
Symptoms of heat illness include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea, weak but rapid pulse and headaches. People with these symptoms should find shade, drink water slowly and make sure there is good ventilation.
If fluids are not replaced soon enough, heat stroke can result, potentially leading to brain damage or death. Get immediate medical attention for anyone with extremely high body temperature, red and dry skin, rapid pulse, confusion and loss of consciousness.
Staying in an air-conditioned area, either at home or in a public place, is the most effective way to fight heat. If air conditioning is not available, pull the shades over the windows and use cross ventilation and fans to cool rooms.
A cool shower or bath also is an effective way to cool off. Limit use of stoves and ovens to keep home temperatures lower.
Children can quickly become dehydrated in hot weather. They need to drink fluids frequently, especially water, and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. Avoid drinks that are heavily sweetened or contain caffeine. Check on children often, especially if they are playing outside in high temperatures.
The Galveston County Health District offers these additional heat precautions:
- Never leave a person or pet in a closed, parked vehicle in hot weather, even for a short time.
- Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water and avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Start drinking fluids at least 30 minutes before going out.
- Plan strenuous outdoor activity for early morning or evening when it’s cooler and wear an insect repellent to avoid insect bites.
- Take frequent breaks when working outside.
- At the first signs of heat illness move to a cooler location, rest a few minutes and slowly drink a cool liquid. Seek medical attention immediately if conditions do not improve.
- Eat more frequently but be sure meals are well balanced, cool and light.
- Check frequently on the elderly, the ill and others who may need help.
- Adjust to the environment. A sudden change in temperature – an early heat wave or travel to a hotter climate – will be stressful to the body. Limit physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat.
- Check with a doctor or pharmacist about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription medications, especially diuretics or antihistamines.
“Prevention is the best defense against heat-related illness and death,” says Dr. Mark Guidry, Galveston County Local Health Authority. “Staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing cool clothing and pacing outdoor activities are keys to staying healthy in hot weather.”