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Stay Safe in Summer Heat

Posted by on July 11th, 2018 Posted in: Public Health
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Thermometer reading 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a blue sky and bright sun background.Summer is a great time to be outside going to the beach or community events, having fun.  But with heat waves happening more often and for longer stretches of time, it’s important to stay healthy by being prepared.

Who is most at risk?

The elderly, children, people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and people who work outside may be at greater risk for heat related health issues.

  • NEVER leave children or pets in the car. Cars quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures even with the windows open.
  • Check on elderly family and neighbors to make sure they’re drinking enough water and staying cool.

Visit the CDC’s Protecting Vulnerable Groups from Extreme Heat page for more information.

Stay Cool, Stay Healthy:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend a few hours in air conditioning during the hottest part of the day to help manage body temperature. It’s a great reason to visit your local library.
  • If you have to be outside, take frequent breaks and rest in the shade.

Visit the Red Cross’s Heat Wave Safety page for more information.

Health risks of extreme heat:

Extreme heat can lead to heat illness which can progress to heatstroke.  Heatstroke can cause brain damage, organ failure and even death.  It’s important to know the early signs of heat illness and treat them accordingly.

Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Very heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you or someone around you is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, lie down in a cool place, apply cool clothes, and sip water.  If the person loses consciousness or starts having seizures, call 911 immediately.

Know the symptoms of heatstroke.  Heatstroke is a medical emergency; call 911 right away.

  • Fever
  • Irrational behavior
  • Extreme confusion
  • Dry, hot, and red skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing (panting)
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Visit MedlinePlus’s Heat Emergencies page to learn more about symptoms and treatments for heat illness.

Now that you know how to beat the heat, you’re ready to take advantage of the fun things that summer has to offer.


Image of the author ABOUT Sarah Levin-Lederer

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NNLM Region 7
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-5985

This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

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