Stay cool this summer
After record heat this past weekend, the Alabama Department of Public Health is recommending extra precautions to prevent heat illnesses.
With heat indexes in the triple digits such as those currently being experienced, the Alabama Department of Public Health advises the public to be alert to the warning signs of heat illnesses, the most common of which are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat cramps include muscle pains or spasms (abdomen, arms or legs), profuse sweating and high salt concentration in the sweat. Heat exhaustion is associated with heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. Other possible symptoms may include cool and moist skin, fast and weak pulse rate, fast and shallow breathing or irritability.
Older adults, those with high blood pressure and those working or exercising in a hot environment are prone to heat exhaustion. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it may progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke or sun stroke – the most serious heat-related illness, a life-threatening problem, may occur when the body is unable to control its temperature.
Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10-15 minutes. Signs include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot and dry or moist skin; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; dehydration; combativeness or confusion; and unconsciousness.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and even with immediate treatment, it can be life-threatening or cause serious long-term problems. Recommendations include drinking plenty of fluids, except alcohol or caffeinated beverages, to prevent dehydration; stay in an air-conditioned room; keep out of the sun by seeking shelter; wear a wide-brimmed hat, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing; use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, take cool showers or baths; reduce or eliminate strenuous activities during the hottest times of the day; and never leave people or pets in a parked vehicle.
Persons with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, poor circulation or previous stroke problems; people of older and younger ages; and those taking certain medications are at greater risk of becoming ill in hot weather. For more information, visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/injuryprevention/index.html