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Heat Health Advisory

Temperatures are approaching 100 and the Health Department urges citizens to be aware of heat-related illnesses.


August 6, 2007

Weather forecasters are calling for an extended period of extreme heat and humidity and the Mecklenburg County Health Department is urging all citizens to be aware of the increased potential for heat-related health problems.

Weather forecasters are calling for an extended period of extreme heat and humidity and the Mecklenburg County is urging all citizens to be aware of the increased potential for .

People suffer from heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But, under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. If this happens, the temperature of the body rises rapidly and heat-related illness may develop.

Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include the elderly, 65 years of age or older, infants and children up to four years of age, persons who are overweight, those who are ill or on certain medications, and people whose occupations expose them to extreme heat conditions.

Some simple guidelines to help keep families safe from the heat include:

· Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. Consume 8-10 glasses a day and more if you are exposed to the heat for prolonged periods. Stay away from soft drinks or alcohol.
· Eat a light, balanced diet. Heavy, large meals will make your body work harder.
· Wear very lightweight, loose fitting clothing. If you must be outdoors, be sure to wear a hat and apply sunscreen as the UV index is extremely high.
· Never leave a child or pet unattended in a car during hot weather, even for a short period of time. Temperatures can reach levels that can injure or kill either in a matter of minutes. Don’t forget to use caution when putting you child in a hot vehicle as buckles from seat belts and other metal parts can cause severe burns.
· Check on the elderly and shut-ins. Do not assume that everything is alright. Seniors are less likely to sense and respond to temperature changes and may not even be aware there is danger present. Those who are on certain medications or have chronic illnesses are most vulnerable.
· Adjust your work schedule, if possible, to arrive early and leave before the hottest part of the day. If you must work outside, take frequent breaks in the shade.

It is very important to pay attention to what your body is saying to avoid falling victim to heat-related illness. Heat-related illness falls into three categories:

· Heat Cramps are muscle cramps that usually begin in the legs and abdomen, usually following strenuous exercise.
· Heat Exhaustion is a more serious condition that can develop after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and inadequate replacement of fluids. Warning signs include elevated body temperature; heavy sweating; excessive thirst; dizziness and nausea; vomiting and diarrhea; and possible fainting.
· Heat Stroke is the most serious heat related illness. Symptoms include high body temperature (106 degrees F or higher), red, hot, and dry skin with no sweating, rapid and strong pulse, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death.

If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for air, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint. Common sense and simple logic will go a long way towards preventing a tragedy. Be safe and look out for those who can’t take care of themselves.

For more information about heat-related illness, check out our Web site at www.meckhealth.org .




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