Warm temperatures combined with high humidity levels can pose a risk of heat-related illness and death. Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.
- Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
- People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
- People who are overweight may be prone because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
- People who overexert during work or exercise may become dehydrated.
- People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.
When temperatures approach or go above 90°F, the following actions are recommended:
- Make frequent checks on the status of elderly or ill relatives or neighbors. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day. Many communities have cooling shelters. The Roselle Public Library, at 40 S. Park St., is a designated cooling site in Roselle.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. If such activity is unavoidable, drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks in air-conditioned or shaded areas.
- Consider monitoring their temperature. An oral temperature above 99°F is cause for concern.
- Do not leave anyone - children, disabled individuals, pets - in cars for even brief periods. Temperatures can rise to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.
- To avoid dehydration, a conscious effort should be made to drink more fluids during hot weather. Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
- Use fans to increase ventilation. If the temperatures exceed 90°F, instead of having a fan blow hot air in from a window, have the fan blow the hot air to the outside.
- Cool showers, baths, and sponge baths can be used to reduce body temperatures. In addition, wet clothing has a cooling effect.
Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
During extremely hot and humid weather, your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged. In most cases, you can help victims of heat-related illnesses by moving them to an air-conditioned room, applying cool, wet cloths, and offering sips of water.
Symptoms: Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen and heavy sweating.
First Aid: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water. Seek immediate medical attention if cramps last longer than 1 hour.
Symptoms: Heavy sweating, weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache or fainting.
First Aid: Move person to a cooler environment, preferably a well air-conditioned room. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths or have person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water. Seek immediate medical attention if the person vomits, symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.
Symptoms: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103°F, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness.
First Aid: Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Delay can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath. Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures. Do NOT give fluids.