July 2, 2012
Health officials recommend steps to “beat the heat”
With heat warnings or advisories currently in effect for the Twin Cities and broad areas of greater Minnesota, state health officials are reminding people that extreme heat can affect your health.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) suggest a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your family during hot weather:
- Drink more fluids than usual – but avoid fluids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar. Check with your doctor if you have been advised to limit your intake of fluids or placed on diuretics (“water pills”).
- Stay indoors – in an air-conditioned location, if possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, spending a few hours a day in an air-conditioned public place like a public library or shopping mall will help your body cope with the heat.
- Don’t rely on electric fans. Electric fans will not prevent heat-related illnesses when the temperature reaches the high 90s and above.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Never leave people, children – or animals – in a closed, parked vehicle, even with the windows open.
- Check regularly on people who may be at higher risk of heat-related illness – infants and young children, people over 65, people with mental illness, and people with chronic health problems like heart disease or high blood pressure.
- If you must spend time outdoors, try to limit your activity to the cooler hours of the day, in the morning and evening. Try to take rest breaks in shady areas and drink plenty of water.
- Limit physical exercise. Again, when you do exercise, be sure to take in plenty of fluids.
- Taking a cool bath or shower can be an effective way to cool off.
- When you’re outdoors, wear hats and use sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
Signs of heat-related illnesses vary but can include the following: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability unless immediately treated. Symptoms of heat stroke include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); red, hot, and dry skin; rapid breathing; racing heart rate; headache; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness. If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately.
More information about protecting your health during hot weather is available on the MDH website at www.health.state.mn.us.
MDH Climate & Health Program Dir.