READYColorado Blog: Heatstroke Prevention
Did you know that an average of 675 deaths from extreme heat events occur each year in the United States? Extremely high or unusually hot temperatures can affect your health. Most vulnerable are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition.
Today, and every day, we remind you take the necessary precautions to prevent serious health effects such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
These tips are from the Center for Disease Control.
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings.
- Contact your local officials to locate air-conditioned shelters in your area.
- Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
- Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when it is the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid direct sunlight.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature.
- Check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors at least twice a day.
- Drink more than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
- Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
- Make sure your family, friends and neighbors are drinking enough water.
- Check your local news for extreme heat warnings and safety tips.
- Visit your local agencies to find local information and tips for preventing heat sickness.
- Keep your friends, family and neighbors aware of weather and heat safety information.
We encourage everyone to learn the signs and first aid response for heat-related illness. Warning signs and symptoms vary but may include:
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
- Heavy sweating
- Skin cold, pale, and clammy
- Weak pulse
- Fainting and vomiting
Heat Stroke Symptoms
- High body temperature (above 103°F)
- Hot, red, dry or moist skin
- Rapid and strong pulse
- Possible unconsciousness
What You Should Do
- Move to a cooler location.
- Lie down and loosen your clothing.
- Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
- Sip water.
If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.
What you should do if someone else has heat stroke symptoms:
- Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
- Move the person to a cooler environment.
- Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
- Do NOT give fluids.
Several factors affect the body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.
Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illnesses. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.