Avoiding Heat Related Illnesses

The hot summer temperatures across the country are causing heat related illnesses.  Patients are visiting their doctors, urgent care centers and emergency rooms with symptoms related to the heat.   Here is information  shared on WJXX/WTLV-TV First Coast Action News during the evening news segment  8/9/2013 for the story “Avoiding Heat Related Illnesses”.

Question: “What are the main things people need to know about heat safety?”

Under normal conditions, the body adjusts to the heat.  Sometimes not so well if exposed to high temperatures, heavy sweating or not drinking enough fluid.  There are 3 levels of heat illnesses  people should know about.

  • Heat cramps –  Painful cramps usually in the calves, thighs or abdominal areas.
  • Heat exhaustion – May experience headache, weakness, cold, nausea, vomiting, feeling faint and temperature may go up to 104 degrees.
  • Heat stroke – May experience confusion, stop sweating and temperature over 104 degrees.  This is life threatening and the person needs medical attention immediately.

One of the keys to preventing heat illness is to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of  fluids.  On a normal day, for most people it is recommended to drink 8 glasses of fluid such as water, fruit or vegetable juice.  There are about 2 glasses work in a typical 16.9 ounce water bottle so that would be about 4 bottles a day.  On a day with higher temperatures, when exercising or working outdoors in the heat, experts recommend drinking 24 ounces – about 1 1/2 water bottle equivalent- two hours before exercise, another 8 ounces (1/2 bottle) before and then 8 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise – regardless if feeling thirsty.

Question: ” Soon kids will be back playing after school sports… what do parents need to know?”

Parents can help their kids by educating them on how to avoid dehydration.  It may take some time for the child to acclimate to the heat.  It  is  important to encourage plenty of  fluids before, during and after practice.  Teach how to hydrate properly and what the signs and symptoms are of dehydration.  The symptoms can include thirst, dry mouth, feeling tired, headache, cramps and dizziness.  Parents should also encourage children not to be embarrassed to let their coach or other  adult know that they need to get something to drink or are not feeling well.

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/SM00037  http://firstaid.webmd.com/understanding-heat-related-illness-basics


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