As we approach extreme heat temperatures this weekend, taking steps to protect yourself from heat illnesses is essential.
Heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and cramps happen when your body can’t keep itself cool. As the temperature rises, your body produces sweat to stay cool. On hot, humid days, the increased moisture in the air slows down this process.
If You Are Experiencing Any of These Heat Exhaustion Symptoms, You Should:
- Move to a cool place
- Loosen your clothes
- Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath
- Sip water
Heat Stroke Symptoms
- High body temperature
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Losing consciousness
If You Are Experiencing Any of These Heat Stroke Symptoms, You Should:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Move the person to a cool place.
- Help lower the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.
- Do not give the person anything to drink.
Reduce Risk Of Heat Stroke
The key to avoiding heat illnesses is prevention, said according to Stevan A. Vuckovic, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Franciscan Health Munster.
Follow these tips to reduce your risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- “Stay in places that are cool,” Dr. Vuckovic said. “Take care of your pets, elderly people and children because they are more susceptible to the heat effects.”
- Use air conditioning and fans. If those options do not keep you comfortable, go to area cooling shelters or public areas such as your local library, community center, museum or senior center.
- “Don’t forget about our elderly people out there; make sure we are checking on them too,” Dr. Vuckovic said. Older adults are more susceptible to heat-related illness, may have memory issues, have underlying medical conditions or may not have a working air conditioner.
- If you need to spend time outside, wear lightweight, loose-fitting cotton clothing. Light-colored clothing also helps because it will reflect some of the sun’s heat.
- “Limit outdoor activities to early morning or evenings to limit exposure to the hottest hours of the day,” said Jeffrey Cox, MD, an urgent care doctor at Franciscan ExpressCare CityWay.
- Don’t leave your children in vehicles.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine or sugary drinks.
- “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” said Louis F. Janeira, MD, FACC, a cardiologist at Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians in Crawfordsville. “It’s all about the water loss. When we lose water, the heart compensates. Some folks don’t have the heart strength to compensate. I tell my severe heart disease patients not to stay outside, that the best thing is to stay inside and minimize time outdoors.”