Tips to prevent heat-related illnesses
With the weather finally becoming nice, everyone wants to be outside. However, the summer heat can be a danger just as much as the cold can be in winter.
In 2013, there were 11 confirmed heat-related deaths in Wisconsin. Heat-related illnesses and deaths can be preventable if you are aware of your surroundings and of the weather. The information provided will allow you to enjoy the outdoors this summer and stay safe from heat related illnesses.
Health providers tell their patients to drink a lot of water. On hot summer days, it is especially important to do this. If you are doing any type of exercise or work outdoors, make sure to drink an absolute minimum of 2 cups of water per hour. Try drinking 4 cups to stay well hydrated, and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. By the time you are thirsty, you can start experiencing heat-related illness symptoms.
The heat is a great reason to check up on your friends and family, especially elderly and children. These groups are the most likely to not drink enough water unless it is given to them. If any of your friends and family seems to be suffering from a heat-related illness, advise them to take a cool bath or shower. This works faster than air conditioning. If a bath or shower is not available, wet pa- per towels with cold water and put it on the back of the neck. This allows the body to cool.
If you are traveling with pets, children or the elderly remember to never leave them in a parked car. Even leaving the windows open is not going to cool down a car enough to prevent heat-related illnesses. On an 80 degree day with sunshine, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can raise 20-30 degrees in 10-20 minutes.
Plan ahead where you are going to stop when you run errands and make sure they are all pet, child and elderly-friendly if you are going to take any of your loved ones along. If you cannot take them into your destination, leave them at home with the fans and air conditioning on.
There are many symptoms of heat-related illnesses. They vary from person to person and situation to situation. Some of the more common ones are heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin, fast, weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. Be aware to the people around you and yourself. If anyone shows any of these symptoms, make sure to help them to rehydrate and get to a cool location.
Stay safe this summer! More information on heat awareness can be found at cdc.gov/extremeheat and readywisconsin.wi.gov.
Mariah Shaver is an AHEC intern at the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health.