Oklahoma’s hot summer days are on the way. Even if this summer is milder than last year, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) advises everyone to take precautions to protect their health against heat related illnesses that may cause heat stroke or death.
To reduce the potential for heat-related illnesses, OCCHD offers these prevention tips:
•Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. You should drink more liquids while the weather is hot.
•Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar; these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
•Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
•Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, will not prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath, or move to an air-conditioned place to cool off.
•Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
•NEVER leave anyone or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
•Although anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.
If you must be out in the heat:
•Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas.
•Cut down on exercise during the hottest part of the day. Whenever you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Plain water provides the best hydration.
•Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
•If you experience signs of heat stress such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, throbbing headache, dry skin (no sweating), chest pain, great weakness, mental changes, breathing problems, or vomiting, contact your health care provider immediately.
For more information about heat-related illnesses and heat safety tips, contact the OCCHD at 419-4246 or check out these websites: www.occhd.org, www.health.ok.gov and www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.asp.