Dealing with the heat


Know the warning signs of common HEAT related problems:
HEAT RASH ("prickly heat")
is caused by blocked sweat ducts. Although not dangerous, the rash has a tingly or prickly feeling. Shower or wash often, dry your skin completely and change into dry clothing. Stay out of the heat until the rash is gone.
mild to severe muscle cramps in the arms, legs or abdomen - are due to profuse perspiration. Look for pale, moist skin with heavy sweating and occasional nausea or faintness. Move the person to a cool area but do not massage the cramped muscles. If not nauseous, slowly sip one or two glasses of an electrolyte drink ("Gatorade"). Do not resume the activity which caused the cramps for at least 12 hours or the cramps may return.
is a mild form of shock from excess exposure to heat. Look for pale, clammy skin with profuse sweating, headache, dizziness, fatigue, and sometimes abdominal cramping. Body temperature remains close to normal. Move the person to a cool area.
HEAT STROKE ("sunstroke")
occurs when the body can't rid itself of excess heat, and there is a sudden rise in body temperature. Symptoms appear rapidly: look for very hot and dry skin (no sweat), dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness. Lower the body temperature as quickly as possible. Move the person to a cool area, or immerse in/pouring cool water over the person and SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY: HEAT STROKE CAN BE FATAL.
HEAT SYNCOPE (loss of consciousness)
is due to decreased blood flow to the brain and heart as the blood pools in the extremities. The person will quickly regain consciousness when lying down. Allow the victim to rest, and remove from the environment or activity which caused the loss of consciousness.
increases your risk of skin cancer. If you're going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and contains a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Put sunscreen on indoors and let it dry for 20 to 30 minutes before you go outside. This gives the chemicals in the sunscreen time to soak in and become activated before you hit the sun. Reapply it every two hours if you've been in water or out sweating in the sun -- even if you're using waterproof sunscreen. Don't forget the kids! Eighty percent of a person's sun damage is acquired before they reach age 18 years of age.

Try to stay out of the mid-day sun and opt for the shade instead. When in the sun - wear hats and clothing that protect from heat and burns.

The Edison Township Health Department offers the following suggestions to prevent heat related illnesses:

  • Spend some time in air conditioning, even if it is only a few hours each day. Do not rely on a fan to cool off in very high temperatures (90 degrees and above). Fans just circulate hot air and can make the situation worse.
  • You can become dehydrated long before you feel thirsty. Drink plenty of fluids, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Talk to your doctor before you take salt tablets or add extra salt to your diet. Cold fruit juice diluted with soda water or green tea makes a healthy, low-calorie drink.
  • The elderly and young children, especially babies under one year, are particularly sensitive to the effects of heat. Be sure to offer plenty of liquids to drink, keep them in the shade, and take care not to overdress them.
  • In case of emergency, contact your doctor immediately, or go to your local hospital's Emergency Room.