Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable, yet over the past 30 years, more people have died in this country from heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.
Those who are most susceptible include:
· Older Persons (65 years old and older)
· Infants and young children
· People with a mental illness or who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
· Those with chronic diseases such as heart conditions, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure
· People with mobility restrictions
· People who have to work or be physically active outside
· Those living in poverty and who are homeless
GENERAL STRATEGIES for all individuals include:
Keeping Cool, Especially Using Air Conditioning and Cool Water
· Use air conditioning to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building such as a store, public library, restaurant, or cooling center.
· If you do not have air conditioning in your home, open windows and shades on the shady side and close them on the sunny side to try and cool it down.
· An electric fan can be beneficial but not reliable to cool off once the temperatures hit about the mid-90s (near or above body temperature of 98.6 degrees).
· Use cool water – take a cool shower or bath.
· Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool.
· Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
· Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (e.g. straw or mesh) when in the sun, even if it is cloudy.
· Never leave children, pets or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes.
· Drink more fluids regardless of your activity level.
· Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks, since these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
· If you are on fluid restrictions or on diuretics, ask your doctor how much fluids you should drink.
Lie Low – Rest Frequently
· Take regular breaks from physical activity – at least every hour.
· Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
If you must be out in the heat and humidity:
· Try to limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
· Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.