Plan ahead for heat dangers - young and old are higher risk | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Plan ahead for heat dangers - young and old are higher risk

Crow Wing County advises precautions against heat-related illness

Posted: July 2, 2012 - 9:12pm

Everyone is susceptible to heat related illnesses, but children, including infants, younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 65, are at higher risk, Crow Wing County Community Services reported.

The high risk category also includes anyone with a pre-existing illness, those with mental health conditions, and/or those who work or play in the sun for prolonged periods of time such as highway workers, farmers, anglers and golfers.

During periods of extreme heat, people can take certain precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. The following are basic safety tips people can use during hot days to stay cool and hydrated.

Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, (except if advised to reduce fluid intake by your doctor).

Do not wait until you are thirsty before you drink fluids.

Avoid drinking alcohol.

Avoid drinks that are high in sugar.

Avoid very cold drinks – they can cause stomach cramps.

Stay cool.

Stay indoors, go to an air-conditioned place. Electric fans may make you more comfortable but don’t do much to prevent heat-related illnesses when temperatures are 90 degrees or higher, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported. If a home doesn’t have air-conditioning, MDH advises spending a few hours in a public library or shopping mall as a way to help your body cope with the heat.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing.

Take a cool shower or bath.

If you must be outside in the heat:

Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

Avoid strenuous exercise.

If you must exercise, pace yourself.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Rest often in the shade or in an air-conditioned building.

Check on persons at greater risk to extreme heat:

Never leave children or pets in cars even with the windows open.

Check on the elderly and other vulnerable persons frequently and monitor them for signs or symptoms of heat illnesses.

Stay informed.

Listen daily to the local news for the weather forecast.

Learn about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

Watch out for the symptoms and carry out preventive measures and first aid.

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include: Breathing difficulty, muscle spasms/cramps, dizziness, fainting, heavy sweating, paleness, headache, nausea/vomiting, body temperature above normal, tiredness, weakness. Heat exhaustion may lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability unless immediately treated. Symptoms of heat stroke include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); red, hot, and dry skin; rapid breathing; racing heart rate; headache; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness. If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately.

For more information on protecting your health during hot weather, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website at http://www.health.state.mn.us, or access via Crow Wing County website at www.co.crow-wing.mn.us.