Forecasted high temperatures and high humidity across Ohio this week could deliver a potentially dangerous heat wave across the state, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Thus the department is urging residents, especially the very young, individuals with chronic medical conditions and the elderly, to use extra care in avoiding heat-related stress.
“This type of heat can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke if you don’t take precautions, so be sure to drink plenty of water and remember to keep cool,” said department medical director Dr. Mary DiOrio. “Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death.”
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. In 2015, nine people across Ohio died as a result of extreme heat. Most vulnerable are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition. People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness.
The department offers these suggestions:
Be a good neighbor:
• Friends and neighbors are urged to periodically check on the elderly and those with illnesses, since they are among those at highest risk for heat-related problems.
• The best defense against heat-related problems is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in fluid in-take, activities and clothing during hot weather will help keep you safe and healthy.
• Adults and kids at work and play also need to take measures against heat stress. Summer activity, whether on the playing field or at the construction site, should be balanced with measures that help the body cool off. Hot weather demands increased fluid intake, regardless of activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
Drink cool fluids:
• Increase your water intake.
• During heavy exercise or work in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses each hour.
• Avoid beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine, because they can add to dehydration and increase the effects of heat illnesses.
Monitor or limit outdoor activities:
• Young children may become preoccupied with outdoor play and not realize they are overheated. Adults should mandate frequent breaks and bring children indoors to cool down and have cool drinks.
• Children or adolescents involved in team sports should be closely monitored for signs of heat stress. Consideration should be given to modifying practice or games during the hottest parts of the day and shifting practice to cooler times.
Know how to treat heat exhaustion:
• Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or fainting.
• People experiencing these symptoms should be moved to a shady or air-conditioned area.
• Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet clothes or towels.
• Have the person sip on a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. If the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 911 or the local emergency number.
Know how to treat heat stroke:
• Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Call 911 immediately. Symptoms include a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher; red, hot dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; and possible unconsciousness.
• Before medical help arrives, begin cooling the person by any means possible, such as spraying person with water from a garden hose or by placing the person in a cool tub of water.
Never leave children or pets in vehicles:
• Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures quickly. Even if the windows are cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes.
• Children or animals left inside a vehicle are at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.
Information for this story was provided by Ohio Department of Health.