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Cooling off in Extreme Heat

Summer is making its grand entrance.  With the arrival of the summer months comes the threat of heat and humidity. And with the ever dreaded heat and humidity typically comes heat exhaustion, heat stress, heat stroke, dehydration, and failing refrigeration units. 

According to the CDC, more than 600 people in the United States die because of extreme heat every year.  Heat exhaustion, heat stress, and heat stroke can escalate quickly. It is essential to know the signs of heat exhaustion and how to prevent it escalating into something more serious.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stress include, but are not limited to:

•    Heavy sweating

•    Cold pale or often clammy skin

•    Fast and weak pulse

•    Headaches

•    Dizziness

•    Muscle pain

•    Feeling tired or weak

•    Sunburn

•    Blistering of the skin

•    Fainting

Our aging population is at the most significant risk for having heat exhaustion or heat stroke along with small children, people with mental illness, or the terminally ill. 

People who work outside or are regularly outside for lengthy amounts of time fall into a risky category but are often more equipped with the proper equipment to remain cool and hydrated. 

Other Risk factors of heat exhaustion and heat stress include, but are not limited to:

•    High levels of humidity

•    Obesity

•    Fever

•    Dehydration

•    Prescription drug use

•    Heart disease

•    Poor circulation

•    Sunburn

•    Alcohol use

If you are showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stress move to a cool place, put cold rags on yourself, sip water, and rest.  If your symptoms last longer than an hour, it is advised to seek medical attention, so this doesn’t turn into heat stroke. 

Heat Stroke is a serious medical condition with serious complications and could turn into a fatality if not treated promptly and properly. 

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include, but are not limited to:

•    A body temperature of 103 degrees and above.

•    Fast and strong pulse.

•    Red, hot, and dry skin.

•    Headache

•    Severe dizziness

•    Confusion

•    Loss of consciousness. 

If someone is showing signs of heat stress, move them to a cooler place, utilize a cold bath to bring their body temperature down, do not give the person anything to drink, and call 911 right away. 

Protecting ourselves and the people around us is as important as protecting the refrigeration unit on a truck. Summer is a critical time of year for everyone, and it’s so important to make sure that you have the tools accessible to prevent a heat-related illness. To aid in the prevention of heat-related illnesses, make sure you have plenty of cold water, cold fluids with electrolytes, cooling bandanas, towels, and lots of shade.  Also, don’t forget that frequent breaks are a must this time of year. 

Have a Happy June and Stay Cool!