Triple-digit temperatures present health concerns for vulnerable populations
TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) advises people to use caution during the extreme heat that is anticipated to last for several days.
“The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention,” said KDHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Lakin. “Staying cool and making simple changes in fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.”
According to the National Weather Service, heath indices are forecasted to be from 100 to 109 degrees in many parts of Kansas through Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year.
People who face the highest risk of heat-related illness include infants and young children up to four years of age, adults over age 65, people who have chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease or obesity), those taking certain medications and people who work or exercise in extreme heat.
The CDC has some tips for preventing heat-related illness, including:
Stay Cool: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a good way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.
Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.
Wear Sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
Do Not Leave Children in Cars: Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting heat stroke or dying.
Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks—these cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.
Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets and leave the water in a shady area.
Know the Signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.
Use a Buddy System: When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
For more information on dealing with extreme summer hear, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat