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Know the warning signs for heat-related illnesses
Little Rock, Ark. – As temperatures continue in the high 90s or above, the Arkansas Department of Health encourages people to practice heat safety. It is easy to get carried away while having fun in the summer, but ignoring signs of heat stress can be deadly.
Heat stress is heat-related illness caused by your body’s inability to cool down properly. The body normally cools itself by sweating; however, under certain conditions sweating is not enough. People who have higher risks for heat stress or heat-related death include children under the age of four, seniors age 65 or older, anyone overweight, and those who are ill or on certain medications.
Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Simple tips to prevent heat stress are:
- Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. If your home does not have air conditioning, consider public places like a library, senior center or mall.
- Wear light, loose-fitted clothing.
- Drink water often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
- Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or without air conditioning.
- Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. Wear a hat when you are in the sun.
- Use sunscreen as directed and reapply as needed.
The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash. It is important for everyone to know the warning signs and what action to take if someone experiences one of these illnesses.
Heat Stroke: Symptoms are high body temperature; hot, red, dry or damp skin; fast, strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and passing out. For heat stroke, you should call 911 right away, move to a cooler place, and help lower the body temperature with cool clothes or a cool bath.
Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating; cold, pale and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; muscle cramps; tiredness or weakness; dizziness; headache; and passing out. For heat exhaustion, you should move to a cool place, loosen clothes, put cool, wet clothes on the body or take a cool bath, and sip water. Get medical help right away if vomiting, symptoms get worse or symptoms last longer than one hour.
Heat Cramps: Symptoms include heavy sweating during intense exercise and muscle pain or spasms. For heat cramps, stop physical activity and move to a cool place, drink water or a sport drink, and wait for cramps to go away before starting more physical activity. If someone is on a low-sodium diet, has heart problems, or if cramps last longer than one hour, they should get medical help right away.
Sunburn: Symptoms include painful, red, and warm skin and blisters on the skin. For sunburn, stay out of the sun until the sunburn heals, put cool cloths on the sunburned areas or take a cool bath, put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas, and do not break blisters.
Heat Rash: Symptoms include red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin, usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases.