Saturday, August 12, 2017

Smart Safety: Keep your Family Safe from Summer Heat Hazards

By Robb Leigh, Chief Medical Officer at Akos, a contemporary medical provider

It's the hottest time of the year and it is important to recognize the risks that come with the increasing outdoor heat.

Every year on average, 658 deaths occur in the U.S. as a result of extreme heat, and those most at risk include children, the elderly, those that work outside and those who suffer from chronic illnesses. The two most common heat-related health risks are dehydration and heat stroke, but they both prevent symptoms that can be easy to recognize. 

One of the first signs of dehydration is muscle cramping. There are two conditions you should be watching for additional warning signs for on high temperature days: heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

When someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, they’ll often have weakness and heavy sweating. You may notice that their skin has a cold and clammy feeling, and is pale in color. They’ll also often have a weak, fast pulse and may have nausea or vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms, try moving the person to a cooler area, have them sip water and attempt to bring the body temperature down. If they exhibit vomiting, and it continues, you should seek medical attention.

A heat stroke is more severe and is considered a medical emergency. A person experiencing a heat stroke will have a high temperature (above 103O) and may possibly go unconscious. Unlike heat exhaustion, their skin will appear red and moist, and will be hot to the touch. They will also often have a fast, strong pulse. If you or someone else begins exhibiting these symptoms, you should contact 911 and try to move the person to a cooler environment to bring down their body temperature. 

There are steps you can take to avoid these heat risks as well. One of the most important things to remember is to stay hydrated. Even if you regularly drink the often-recommended 8 glasses of water a day, extreme heat means you should be drinking even more. Aim to drink two to four cups of water every hour, especially if you are working or exercising outside. If you have young children, make sure to keep them drinking water, and try to avoid any drinks containing high amounts of sugar. Remember that thirst is a sign of dehydration, so try to avoid waiting until you feel thirsty before drinking. 

According to a report released by the CDC, 69 percent of the heat-related deaths in their study occurred in the home, and 91 percent of those homes lacked air conditioning. Try not to rely on a fan as your sole source for cooling down, and stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you aren’t able to find air-conditioned shelter, try taking cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature. Remember to wear lightweight clothing, and try to avoid wearing dark colors. 

If you have family members that are part of the most at-risk groups, it’s recommended to check on them twice a day. If you have neighbors that live alone or are elderly, try to check in with them and make sure they’re keeping cool and hydrated. 

Heat related illnesses are preventable when the proper steps are taken to avoid them. Remember to keep hydrated and cool, and watch for warning signs, especially in children, the elderly and those suffering from chronic illness. 

No comments:

Post a Comment