June 11, 2008
As many Texas areas mark record high temperatures, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) health officials offer precautions people can take to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The elderly, the very young, people with chronic diseases and those without access to air conditioning are those most likely to suffer in extremely hot weather.
Staying in an air-conditioned area, either at home or in a public place such as a mall, library or recreation center, is the most effective way to combat heat. If air conditioning is not available, open the windows, pull the shades down to keep out the sun and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms.
Other heat precautions from DSHS:
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle in hot weather, even for a short time.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar. Don't wait until you are thirsty. Start drinking fluids at least 30 minutes before going out.
- Plan strenuous outdoor activity for early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
- Take frequent breaks when working outside.
- At the first signs of heat illness – dizziness, heavy sweating, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps – move to a cooler location, rest a few minutes and slowly drink a cool liquid. Seek medical attention immediately if conditions do not improve.
- Eat more frequently but be sure meals are well balanced, cool and light.
- Check frequently on the elderly, the ill and others who may need help.
- Adjust to the environment. A sudden change in temperature – an early heat wave or travel to a hotter climate – will be stressful to the body. Limit physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat.
- Check with a doctor or pharmacist about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription medications, especially diuretics or antihistamines.
The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing cool clothing and monitoring outdoor activities are keys to staying healthy in hot weather.
(News Media: For more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)