Staying Cool In A Heat Wave & Heat-Related Illnesses Warning Signs

With the excessive heat warnings for the region, HSHS Holy Family Hospital wants the community to stay safe by providing tips for staying cool and how to know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses, like heat stroke, which require medical attention.

Dr. Jamie Baum, emergency medicine physician at HSHS Holy Family Hospital said, “Strenuous activity in hot weather or prolonged exposure to a hot environment are often the causes of heat stroke. Both lead to a rise in core body temperature which becomes dangerous at 103 degrees or higher.”

Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency. If a person exhibits symptoms of a heat stroke, call 911 right away. Symptoms include:

High body temperature (103 degrees or higher)

Hot, red, dry or damp skin

Fast, strong pulse

Headache

Dizziness

Nausea

Confusion

Losing consciousness

Move the person to a cooler place after calling 911. You can also help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath. It is not recommended that the person be given anything to drink.

“Heat exhaustion is also common during a heat wave. Symptoms include heavy sweating, fast but weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, headache and passing out,” added Dr. Baum. If you or others experience these symptoms, it is recommended to move to a cool place, sip water, loosen your clothes and put cool, wet cloths on your body to cool down. Seek medical help right away if you or someone else is vomiting, symptoms get worse or the symptoms last longer than one hour.

Dr. Baum stressed that heat-related illnesses are preventable. She recommends that people stay cool and stay hydrated and offered the following tips:

Wear appropriate clothing

Stay cool indoors

Don’t be outside if you don’t have to be

If you must be outdoors, pace yourself and take breaks

Wear sunscreen

Avoid hot and heavy meals

Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity

Don’t wait to drink water until you’re thirsty

Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks

Certain people are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. This includes infants and young children, people 65 and older, people who are overweight, and people who are physically ill. If a person experiences a heat-related illness, it is common for them to lose consciousness. If you know someone in any of these categories, make sure to check on them at least twice a day during a heat wave.

Resources and more information on cooling centers in the area can be found at www.211helps.org/cooling-sites/ or www.keepcool.illinois.gov. To ensure a site is operating during the time needed, the public is encouraged to call ahead of time.

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