SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY (July 29, 2015) – Sullivan County Public Health Director, Nancy McGraw wants to remind Sullivan County residents to know the signs of heat-related illness and to protect themselves during this heat wave that is expected to continue through this week. Summer time heat can be dangerous. Some people can be at risk of serious health effects from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Those who are most at risk from the heat are:
• Older adults
• Young children
• People who are overweight/obese
• People who do not perspire normally
• People with some chronic medical conditions such as history of dehydration, heart problems and respiratory or lung problems
• People who work outdoors or in hot settings
People who take certain medications that cause sensitivity to the sun or interfere with the body’s ability to sweat and stay cool. Some medicines that affect the body’s cooling system include antihistamines, antidepressants, over-the-counter sleeping pills, anti-diarrhea pills, beta blockers, anti-Parkinson’s drugs and psychiatric drugs. Do not stop taking medication unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
The warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
If you see any of these signs, you should call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:
• Get the person to a shady area.
• Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water, place them in a cool shower, spray them with cool water from a garden hose; or sponge the person down with cool water and a fan.
Here’s what you can do to keep cool.
• Use air conditioning to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building.
• If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, open windows and shades on the shady side and close them on the sunny side to try to cool it down.
• Drink plenty of fluids but avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks.
• Beat the heat with cool showers and baths.
• Take regular breaks from physical activity.
• Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
• 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.
• Check on your neighbors, family and friends, especially those who are elderly or have special needs.
For more information, contact your health care provider or call Sullivan County Public Health Services’ Health Information Line at 292-5910, Ext. 0