Avoid over-heating to prevent heat-related illness in people, pets
Vancouver, WA ‒ With temperatures expected to approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit Thursday through Saturday, Public Health officials are urging residents to protect themselves during the hot spell.
“We are encouraging people to avoid or limit physical activity outdoors, take shelter in air-conditioned buildings, and drink plenty of fluids,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer. “Elderly people and the very young are especially vulnerable during periods of intense or prolonged heat.”
Some air-conditioned locations in Clark County are listed at http://cresa911.org/emergency-management/emergency-preparedness/beat-the-heat-tips-and-places-to-stay-cool/. To add the name of a cooling center to the list, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following tips can help prevent heat-related problems:
- Drink more water and other nonalcoholic beverages, regardless of your activity level.
- Limit intake of drinks with caffeine, alcohol or lots of sugar.
- Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned location, if possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, go to the mall, a movie or the library for a few hours to cool down.
- Never leave anyone, especially young children, in a parked vehicle. Leave pets at home. Even with windows rolled down, temperatures can rise rapidly in parked vehicles.
- Fans provide comfort, but will not prevent heat-related illness. Cool off by taking a shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
If you must be out in the heat:
- Limit outdoor activity to morning or evening hours.
- If you work outdoors, check on your co-workers and drink lots of water.
- Cut down on exercise. Avoid midday exercise and drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour.
- Rest often in shady areas.
- Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses; put on sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Heat related illnesses
Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs include: body temperature above 103°F; red, hot and dry skin but no sweating; rapid pulse; throbbing headache; nausea; dizziness; and confusion.
If you see any of these signs, call for immediate medical assistance. Place the victim in a tub of cool water or cool shower, or spray the person with cool water from a garden hose. Do not give the person fluids to drink.
Less severe heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion and muscle cramps. Signs are heavy sweating, paleness, weakness, headache and vomiting. Drink nonalcoholic, cool beverages. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last more than an hour.
Hot weather means more people will seek relief in local swimming spots. Swimming is allowed in most Clark County parks that have water access, but parks on the Columbia River are not considered safe for swimming because of strong river currents and sudden drop-offs.
Visitors to all county parks swim at their own risk. Parents should be vigilant watching children near the water. More information on swimming and water safety at parks is available on the county website at www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/swimming.
If weekend plans include a trip to a local swimming hole, here are some safety tips:
- Wear a life jacket when swimming anywhere without lifeguards or when on a boat, jet ski, inner tube or other water sports equipment.
- Ensure children wear life jackets. Inflatable toys and mattresses will not keep children safe. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
- Never leave children unsupervised in or near water, even for a minute. Drowning can happen swiftly and silently. Supervision requires complete attention, even if other adults are present.
- Always avoid alcohol when swimming or boating.
- Avoid swimming in potentially dangerous areas such as fast-flowing rivers or ocean beaches with riptides.
Swimming pool safety: www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/WaterRecreation/PoolSafety.aspx.
Staying cool during hot weather: www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/EmergencyPreparednessandResponse/Factsheets/HotWeatherSafety.aspx.
CONTACTDr. Alan Melnick
Health Officer/Public Health Director