CDC wants you to know how you can prevent heat related deaths and know the signs
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) – Heat causes about 400 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among those most at risk from heat related illnesses are the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, homebound people and children under five.
The three stages of heat related illness are:
• Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms often occurring in the legs or abdomen.
• Heat exhaustion is caused by the loss of large amounts of fluid by sweating, sometimes with excessive loss of salt. Most people can recover by resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of liquids.
• If you don’t recognize the signs of heat exhaustion, or ignore them, they could lead to heat stroke. This is the most serious of health problems associated with heat, it’s life-threatening.
There are factors that affect how people handle heat. If the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate quickly and this prevents the body from releasing heat. Age, obesity, sunburn, some medical conditions and medications can all affect our risk.
The signs of heat exhaustion are the skin feeling cool and clammy or moist, and may be either pale or flushed looking. You may also get a headache, feel nauseas or weak and dizzy.
The signs of heat stroke are: red, hot, dry skin and confusion or loss of consciousness. The heat stroke victim will lose the ability to sweat, which is why the skin will be hot and dry; rapid, weak pulse or rapid, shallow breathing.
The department says heat related deaths are preventable. Staying in an air-conditioned area is the best answer. But, when you can’t do that, you can:
• Drink plenty of water. If you are doing an outdoors activity, drink 2- 4 glasses of at least 16 ounces of cool fluids every hour. Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar, these actually cause you to lose body fluid.
• Avoid strenuous activity.
• Take frequent cool showers or baths.
• Wear lightweight, light colored clothes.
• Limit sun exposure.
• Never, ever, leave children or pets in a parked car. Having any person or pet in a car in the summer months without air conditioning is like putting them in an oven.