OSWEGO, NY – Those most at risk for heat-related illness are young children and the elderly.
Oswego Hospital offers these suggestions to protect you from heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburn:
Watch for signs of heat-related illness. These signs include fainting, dizziness, headache, nausea, flushed appearance, increased heart rate, and body temperature of 103 degrees or higher.
Drink lots of fluids. Avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing, a hat, and waterproof sunscreen.
When taking prescription drugs, check with your physician before any prolonged exposure to the sun.
Heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion occur when your body is unable to keep itself cool. As the air temperature rises, your body stays cool through the evaporation of sweat. When humidity is high, you feel uncomfortable because the increased moisture in the air slows the evaporation of sweat. When your body cannot cool itself, your temperature rises and you may become ill. Very high body temperatures can damage the brain or other vital organs, and cause death.
Preventing Heat Illness
It is important to take action to aid your body’s cooling mechanisms. Oswego Hospital recommends these activities:
Stay in air-conditioned areas when possible. Shopping malls and public libraries are great places to visit if you don’t have air conditioning.
Drink plenty of water before starting an outdoor activity. During an outdoor activity, drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. (If you are on a fluid-restricted diet, consult your doctor to determine the amount of fluids you should consume.) Avoid very cold beverages as they can cause stomach cramps.
Avoid tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. These beverages cause you to lose more fluid.
Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella.
Increase the time you spend in daily outdoor activities slowly and gradually. This will assist your body in adjusting to higher temperatures.
Schedule vigorous outdoor activities for cooler times of the day (before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.).
If you must be out in the heat, take frequent breaks (in shady areas) to give your body’s cooling mechanisms a chance to recover.
Limit the use of your stove and oven. These appliances increase the temperature inside your home.
Wear clothing that is loose fitting, light colored, and lightweight.
Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Sunburn causes you to lose body fluids and affects your body’s ability to cool itself.
Don’t rely on fans to prevent heat-related illnesses. Cool showers or baths are more effective.
Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking. Certain medications (particularly those that treat Parkinson’s disease, antihistamines, tranquilizers, antidepressants, diuretics, and certain cardiovascular drugs) can increase your risk of heat-related illnesses.
Signs of Heat Illness
Common symptoms of heat illness are headache, dizziness, muscle weakness or muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop all activity immediately and go to a shady, cooler area. Remove any excess clothing and sponge your body with lukewarm water. Slowly sip water or other fluids.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, get medical help immediately:
- red, hot, dry (not sweaty) skin
- confusion or loss of consciousness
- frequent vomiting
- shortness of breath/trouble breathing or
- rapid pulse.