August 10, 2010
As temperatures push past 100 degrees across much of the state, the Texas
Department of State Health Services reminds people to be aware of the signs of
heat illness and take precautions to protect themselves. The elderly, young
children, people with chronic diseases and those without access to air
conditioning are most at risk.
Staying in an air conditioned area, either at home or at public places like
malls, libraries or community centers, is the best way to combat heat. If air
conditioning is not available, open windows, pull down shades to keep out direct
sunlight and use fans and cross-ventilation to cool rooms.
- Never leave anyone in a parked vehicle, even for a short
time. Vehicles can heat up to deadly temperatures in minutes. Cracking
the windows does little to keep temperatures down. If your child sits in the
back seat, put your purse, briefcase, wallet or another essential item behind
you so you’ll notice your child is there before exiting the vehicle. Young
children are particularly vulnerable to the heat because their bodies don’t
regulate temperature as well. Call 911 immediately if you see an unattended
child in a vehicle.
- Check frequently on older friends, neighbors and family
members. Visit at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat
illness. Assist them with transportation to a location with air conditioning and
make sure they know what to do if they experience heat illness. Most deaths
caused by heat stroke occur in people over 50 years old. They are more likely to
have a medical condition or be taking medication that can interfere with the
body’s response to heat.
- Take action at the first sign of heat illness. Symptoms of
heat illness include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea,
weak but rapid pulse and headaches. People with these symptoms should find
shade, drink water slowly and make sure there is good ventilation. If symptoms
don’t improve, seek medical attention.
Drink plenty of water. Drink liquids 30 minutes before going
outside and continue even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and
(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS
Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7753)
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