Take precautions during upcoming heat wave
Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer
Vancouver, WA—With an extended period of heat and humidity predicted for our region, health officials are advising residents to take steps to protect themselves from the heat.
“Heat-related problems are preventable,“ said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “We are encouraging people to avoid or limit physical activity outdoors, take shelter in air-conditioned buildings, and drink plenty of fluids. Elderly people and the very young are especially vulnerable during periods of intense or prolonged heat.”
Residents are encouraged to observe the following tips to help prevent heat-related problems:
- Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your doctor limits the amount of fluid you drink, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
- Limit intake of drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or lots of sugar; these can cause you to lose more body fluid.
- Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned location if possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, go to the shopping mall or public library for a few hours. This can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
- NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially young children. This applies to pets as well.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature reaches the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
If you must be out in the heat:
- Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
- Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, avoid the midday hours and drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
- Try to rest often in shady areas.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Heat related illnesses
- Although any one 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, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs of heat stroke may include a body temperature above 103°F; red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.
- If you see any of these signs, have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Place the victim in a tub of cool water or in a cool shower, or spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose. Do not give the victim fluids to drink.
- Less severe heat related illnesses include heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Heat exhaustion can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures. It is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat.
- Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles causes painful cramps.
For more information, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp.