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Beat the Heat

It's hot. Stay safe.

July 7, 2012
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

The heat is definitely on and make no mistake about it, both temperatures and sun exposure can make for a damaging and even deadly combination that can have an impact on just about anyone, according to medical experts.

The extreme summer heat and harsh sun show no mercy to anyone regardless of age.

The truth of the matter is injuries and deaths resulting from these forces of nature generally are very preventable but, more often than not, they happen because someone is in a hurry or thought they would not fall victim to the dangers all humans face when it comes to summer's increasingly intense heat, humidity and sun exposure levels.

However there are plenty of places to turn to for help.

The facts concerning the devastation that can come from things like heat stroke, dehydration, and several sunburns, and ideas for preventing these problems, can be readily accessed through your local pharmacy's patient information sections, your physician's office, or places like the website maintained by the Centers For Disease Control.

Many of the best tactics a person can employ to ward off developing problems resulting from over exposure to the sun or to extreme heat conditions include being vigilant in your awareness of the potential for danger by regularly checking the weather conditions in your area, making sure to have and use appropriate sun block products, and committing to drinking plenty of water or healthy sports drinks throughout an given day, say medical experts.

Fact Box

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure and people working or exercising in a hot environment. If untreated, heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency.

Heat exhaustion symptoms and signs are milder than heat stroke symptoms and can include:

  • sweating heavily? paleness
  • muscle cramps? fatigue
  • weakness? dizziness
  • headache? irritability
  • nausea or vomiting? increased thirst
  • fainting? cool and moist skin
  • fast and weak pulse? fast and shallow breathing

First aid for heat exhaustion usually includes stopping physical activities, getting out of the heat and into an air-conditioned area, drinking a cold water or a sports drink, cooling the body by taking a cool bath or shower, or getting sprayed with cool water, say experts at the CDC.

Heat stroke symptoms and signs can include:

  • a body temperature above 103 F and which can be as high as 106 F (fever)
  • red, hot, and dry skin (absence of sweating)
  • fast, strong pulse
  • throbbing headache
  • nausea
  • confusion or other changes in behavior, such as becoming grouchy
  • dizziness
  • unconsciousness
  • seizures

Since heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency, if a child has heat stroke symptoms, it is important to call 911 for medical assistance. While waiting for an ambulance to arrive, first aid for heat stroke usually includes getting the child out of the sun, preferably to an air-conditioned area, and cool him by placing him in a cool bath or shower, spraying him with cool water, or sponging him with cool water.

Increasing your effort to stay hydrated is vitally important to anyone spending an extended period of time in the sun, or in extremely hot conditions such as those that exist in industrial workplaces, or even those who spend a time on hot asphalt or concrete surfaces, as these all hold the day's heat.

Conditions such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion can lead to death, particularly for young children or the elderly.

Law enforcement and emergency response officials nationwide have been dealing with emergency situations created when a person or pet is left in a closed vehicle creating situations needing to be resolved immediately in order to prevent death or injury.

Safety experts remind the public to be vigilant in taking steps to prevent emergency situations from happening, but also to be prepared to quickly take steps to make emergency responders aware of a problem by immediately calling 911.

As many Ohio Valley area teens head into band, drill team and football camp season, it is important to take time to educate them about these dangers - how to prevent them, how to recognize them and how to respond when treatment is needed.

"Make sure that your child recognizes the symptoms of heat related illnesses and knows to get help even if told to keep playing. And remember that heat related illnesses don't just affect football players. They can affect children playing almost any sport in the heat, and members of the band and drill team," note CDC experts.

Loccisano can be reached at kloccisano@



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