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Preventing heat-related illness

Summer’s heat and humidity are officially here. According to the national Centers for Disease Control, more than 300 Americans die every year from heat-related illnesses.

When exposed to excessive heat, the body can be unable to properly cool itself, leading to dangerously high body temperatures and medical conditions, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Let’s take a quick look at some helpful facts to help you avoid a heat-related illness …

  • Elderly people (65 and older), infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are the most vulnerable to heat stress.
  • Air conditioning is the best protection from heat. During peak sun hours, try to stay indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, visit public facilities such as shopping malls, libraries or movie theaters to stay cool.
  • If you must be outside, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, seek out shady areas, and take frequent rest breaks from your activity.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol and tea, which contribute to dehydration.
  • Wear a hat and loose, light-colored clothing to dissipate heat.
  • Recognize the signs of heat stroke: high body temperature, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, the absence of sweating with hot red and flushed skin, hallucinations, confusion and disorientation.

Written by Jesse Gatlin, Physical Therapist