The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reminding local residents about steps they should take to protect their health from the extreme heat.
People with heat stress may experience heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; and nausea or vomiting. Early signs include muscle cramps, heat rash, fainting or near-fainting spells and a pulse or heart rate greater than 100.
People with heat stress should be moved to a cooler location to lie down. Apply cool, wet cloths to the body especially to head, neck, armpits and upper legs near the groin area where combined 70 percent of body heat can be lost; and have the person sip water. They should remain in the cool location until recovered with a pulse heart rate is well under 100 beats per minute.
Signs of heat stroke include a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit; hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; and altered mental status which can range from confusion and agitation to unconsciousness. Call 911 and take steps to cool the person.
While children are vulnerable to heat illnesses, they may be unable to explain what is wrong but may act differently than usual. In extreme heat, consider changes in a child’s behavior to be heat stress.
Similarly, people with communication-related disabilities may have difficulty expressing a heat-related problem. In extreme heat, look for a change in behavior as a sign of heat stress.
Older adults face additional risk of heat stress and heat stroke, for a variety of reasons. The National Institute on Aging’s fact sheet explains more about how extreme heat can affect seniors.
To help prevent heat-related illness:
— Spend time in locations with air-conditioning when possible.
— Drink plenty of fluids. Good choices are water and diluted sport electrolyte drinks — one part sport drink to two parts water — unless told otherwise by a doctor.
— Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
— Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
As air conditioning use increases, electrical grids can become overwhelmed causing power outages. In power outages, people who rely on electricity-dependent medical devices, like oxygen concentrators, may need assistance, so check on family members, friends and neighbors who use this type of equipment.
Community organizations and businesses can help local emergency managers and health departments plan for the community’s health needs amid the summer heat — and other emergency situations that cause power outages — using the HHS emPOWER Map. The HHS emPOWER Map provides the monthly total number of Medicare beneficiaries’ claims for electricity-dependent equipment at the national, state, territory, county, and zip code levels.
For information about how to prevent heat-related illnesses, visit emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat.