With summer in full swing and the temperature on the rise, extended periods of hot, dry weather are ahead.
As the heat index increases, so does the chance of heat-related illnesses. Summer heat, like any other weather concern, brings its own set of dangers.Taking simple precautions like wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated and taking frequent breaks from the heat will go a long way towards avoiding heat-related problems.
Heat can pose serious, sometimes fatal, risks to elderly, children and pets, especially those without air conditioning to provide relief.
Remember these basic tips from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to protect you and your family during severe heat and heat emergencies:
•Check on those who do not have air conditioning and may spend much of their time alone.
•Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle.
•Eat light, well-balanced meals at regular intervals.
•Drink plenty of water and limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
•Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
•Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Wear sunscreen.
•Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day; use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
•If you do not have air conditioning, consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
•Be aware of medications that may impair the body’s response to heat, including antihistamines, tranquilizers and some medications for heart disease.
Missourians should call the state’s toll-free abuse and neglect hotline at 1-800-392-0210 to report senior citizens or adults with disabilities suffering from the heat and needing assistance. The hotline operates 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week.
Prevent heat-related illness
•Be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness, such as light-headedness, mild nausea or confusion, sleepiness or profuse sweating.
•While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area so that your body’s thermostat has a chance to recover.
•Schedule outdoor activities carefully, preferably before noon or in the evening,
•If unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly, pick up the pace gradually and limit your exercise or work time.
•Wear sunscreen to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids.
•Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
•When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day when hot weather health advisories have been issued.
•Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment. If air conditioning is not available, consider a visit to a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, supermarket or other air-conditioned location for a few hours.
•Increase your fluid intake—regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink fluids. Ensure infants and children drink adequate amounts of liquids.
•Avoid drinks containing caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid. Also, avoid very cold beverages because they can cause stomach cramps.
•Electric fans may be useful to increase comfort and to draw cool air into your home at night, but do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during a heat wave.
•When the temperature is in the upper 90s or higher, a fan will not prevent heat-related illness. A cool shower or bath is a more effective way to cool off.