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Wed, April 24

Cool tips for dealing with the summer heat

If you have been active in the sun and suddenly have a throbbing headache, a rapid, strong pulse or red, hot skin, you may have a warning sign of heat stroke. Heat stroke is the more serious form of heat-related illness and is a risk for anyone who is not properly hydrated. The elderly, people in poor physical conditioning and people taking certain prescription medications are often more vulnerable to heat illness. Knowing both how to prevent heat illness and how to respond with first aid techniques can be important for yourself and others.

Heat stroke can strike quickly within 15 minutes if the sweating mechanism fails and the body temperature climbs above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning signs vary, but can include red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; irrational behavior; and unconsciousness. Heat stroke can be a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for medical assistance and do what you can to cool the affected person.

Heat Stroke First Aid

• Get heat-affected person indoors or to a shady area.

• Cool the affected person quickly, using whatever means you can. For example, spray cool water on them, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet and fan them vigorously.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat illness that can develop after several hours or several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those people most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure, and people who work or exercise in a hot environment.

The warning signs of heat exhaustion include:

• Heavy sweating

• Pallor or unusual lack of color to the skin

• 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.

Cooling Off During Heat Exhaustion

Simply stop activity and rest, especially if you feel lightheaded, faint or become confused. Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. Seek an air-conditioned environment. Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.

Play it Safe when it's Hot

• Never leave anyone or any pet in a closed, parked vehicle.

• Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned area. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a shopping mall, senior center, or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

• Use the early morning hours when the temperatures are cooler for exercise and outdoor activities. Drink two to four glasses of cool water each hour while exercising or engaged in outdoor activity. Continue to drink water throughout the next day after heavy exercise.

• Wear lightweight clothing.

• Drink more water, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him or her how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

• Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.

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