Safety Tips to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses

Parts of Europe are experiencing a heat wave that is causing emergency situations for millions of residents. And, in the United States, many parts of the country are dealing with temperatures that remain unusually high.

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can be life-threatening and often preventable.

heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can occur when your body becomes dehydrated and loses too much water and salt as a result of high temperatures and humidity.

Those most at risk are older adults, those with high blood pressure, and those who work outdoors. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into a more serious heat-related illness, heat stroke.

Heatstroke

Heat stroke is caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure or physical exertion to high temperatures. This more serious form of heat injury, heat stroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) or higher.

Untreated heat stroke can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. The damage gets worse the longer treatment is delayed, increasing the risk of serious complications or death.

Prevention of heat-related illnesses

• Keep it up. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider a shopping mall or a public building like a library to help cool down. Don’t rely solely on case fans during extreme temperatures.

• Adults over the age of 65 may not tolerate sudden changes in temperature as well as younger people. Check them more often. Make sure they are drinking enough water.

• Keep hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Water and sports drinks are the most effective beverages for hot weather.

• Avoid alcohol, as it can actually make you more dehydrated.

• Eat lighter meals.

• Wear light clothing or loose clothing.

• Protect yourself against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your eyes and skin.

• Avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.

• Check on your friends, family and neighbors. Ask them to do the same.

• Make sure your pets have enough water.

• Do not leave anyone or their pets alone in a vehicle. Every year, several children die after being left in hot cars. This is never a safe practice, even if you break the windows.

• Stay informed. Check local news and weather for updates.

Preventing the disease is not always possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you are concerned that someone is showing signs of heat-related illness, including heat stroke. Those signs and symptoms may include a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or higher, confusion or agitation, heavy sweating, and vomiting.

A picture taken on July 19, 2022 shows burned tables and chairs in a camp restaurant that has been devastated by a forest fire in Pyla sur Mer in Gironde, southwestern France. – Firefighters in southwestern France were still struggling in sweltering heat to contain two massive fires that caused widespread destruction. An area nine kilometers (5.5 miles) long and eight kilometers wide was still ablaze near France’s Dune de Pilat, Europe’s tallest sand dune, turning picturesque landscapes, popular campgrounds and pristine beaches into a scorching mess.

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