WCHD Reminds Residents to Take Heat Related Safety Precautions

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WCHD) -- The hot summer sun not only brings hot summer days; it brings heat waves as well. The Winnebago County Health Department reminds residents of take preventive action during the extremely hot weather to stay safe, cool, hydrated, and informed, to help avoid a heat-related illness.

Extremely high or unusually hot temperature can affect your health. The most vulnerable are the elderly; those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition.

The two most common heat-related conditions are heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

HEAT STROKE occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can result from over exposure to direct sunlight (with or without physical activity) or too high indoor temperatures.

Symptoms may include: high body temperature; red, hot, and dry skin; rapid pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness nausea; confusion; unconsciousness.

Treat someone with heat stroke as follows: find a cool place indoors (preferably air conditioned) or a nice shaded area outdoors; put the person in a semi-sitting position and loosen his/her clothing and bathe them in cold water. Then immediately seek medical attention.

HEAT EXHAUSTION occurs when too much time is spent in a very warm environment, resulting in excessive sweating without adequate intake of fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals) for replacement. This can occur indoors or outdoors, with or without physical activity.

Symptoms may include: dizziness; headache; nausea; abdomen cramps; shallow breathing; cool and clammy skin muscle tremors; heavy perspiration.

Treat someone with heat exhaustion as follows: find a cool place indoors (preferably air conditioned) or a nice shaded area outdoors; keep the person quiet, loosen their clothing, and have them drink water or fruit juice. Seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or continue for more than an hour, or if the person has heart problems or high blood pressure.
Take these necessary precautions to prevent heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Stay Cool

• Stay in air-conditioned buildings.
• Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
• Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when it is the hottest part of the day, and avoid direct sunlight.
• Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher 30 minutes before going outside.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light colored clothing.
• Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
• Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature.
• Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day.

Stay Hydrated

• Drink more than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
• Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
• Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts sugar.
• Make sure your family, friends and neighbors are drinking enough water.

Stay Informed

• Check your local news for extreme heat warnings and safety tips.
• Keep your family, friends and neighbors aware of weather and heat safety information.
• To help keep the public informed about heat-related health information the Winnebago County Health Department website, www.wchd.org, will have heat-related information throughout this summer heat wave.

Also, give pets ample water, and a shady spot to be under if they have to be outdoors during the warm weather, and NEVER leave children or pets in parked car, not even for a few minutes.

Health officials recommend that if residents are experiencing a heat related illness to first call their family physician or go to an immediate care clinic for treatment. If it is a medical emergency, please call 911 for assistance.

For additional information, contact the Winnebago County Health Department Public Information Officer, Sue Fuller at
815-720-4213 or sfuller@wchd.org.

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