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Hot Weather Health Emergencies
Elderly people, infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress.
Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems. During hot weather health emergencies, keep informed by listening to local weather and news channels or contact local health departments for health and safety updates. Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. Know the symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun, and be ready to give first aid treatment.
Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
Recognizing Heat Stroke
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
What to Do
If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:
Sometimes a victim’s muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke. If this happens, keep the victim from injuring himself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after
several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced
replacement of fluids. It is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water
and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly
people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot
Recognizing Heat Exhaustion
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:
The skin may be cool and moist. The victim’s pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occurs:
Otherwise, help the victim to cool off, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.
What to Do
Cooling measures that may be effective include the following:
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp
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