Health alert: Avoid heat danger

Staff report

SIDNEY — The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department has issued a Public Health Excessive Heat Outlook to notify the public that beginning today, July 22, the National Weather Service expects a three-day stretch with daytime heat indices reaching at least 100 degrees, coupled with nighttime lows in excess of 70 degrees.

These types of conditions can cause those without air conditioning to experience significant physical and mental stress. When nighttime lows fail to drop below 70 degrees, the human body has a difficult time recovering from the ongoing heat.

The health department stresses that everyone needs to take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses, especially the very young, individuals with chronic medical conditions and the elderly. Physical activity should be limited as much as possible. Individuals are also encouraged to minimize prolonged exposure to high heat conditions.

To prevent heat-related illness:

• Drink plenty of water and nonalcoholic fluids.

• Decrease physical activity. This is particularly advisable for joggers and school athletic teams. Exercise activities should occur in the morning or early in the evening. Stay in the shade as much as possible.

• Use air conditioning, if available.

• Wear loose, lightweight and light-colored cotton clothing.

• Eat light meals.

• Cool down with showers, baths and recreational swimming.

• Adjust blinds, shades and awnings to keep out the sun.

• Use your basement, if it is cool, during the hottest hours.

• Be a good neighbor and check on those who may need assistance.

• Individuals with chronic health problems, such as heart disease or lung problems, should minimize activities because the heat will add additional stress.

• Extra steps should be taken for the elderly and young infants and children to assure that they are protected from the heat.

• Children and pets should not be left unattended in closed vehicles. Temperatures can reach dangerous levels rapidly. Take pets inside, if possible. Otherwise, move them to the shade and make sure they have plenty of water.

• Individuals on medications should check with their doctors to see if the heat puts them at increased risk.

• The Red Cross also suggests that you be prepared for power outages. This kind of heat often stresses the power grid and leads to outages. If you don’t have an emergency disaster kit, now is a good time to put one together. Be prepared to survive three days without electricity.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or fainting.

People experiencing these symptoms should be moved to a shady or air-conditioned area. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet clothes or towels. Have person sip cool water every 15 minutes. If the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 911.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Call 911 immediately. Symptoms include a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher; red, hot dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; and possible unconsciousness. People experiencing these symptoms should be moved to a shady or air-conditioned area. Before medical help arrives, begin cooling the person by any means possible, such as spraying person with water from a garden hose or by placing the person in a tub of cool water.

Staff report

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