Health Tips

Health Departments Offers Tips for Preventing Heat Related Illnesses

Oklahoma’s hot summer days are on the way. Even if this summer is milder than last year, Health Departments advises everyone to take precautions to protect their health against heat related illnesses that may cause heat stroke or death.

The elderly, infants and young children are at higher risk of heat-related illnesses. They may not be able to adjust to increases in air temperatures, or may take medications that decrease their ability to deal with heat. Heat precautions are also advised for those with heart, lung or kidney problems and anyone who works outdoors.

To reduce the potential for heat-related illnesses, we offers these prevention tips:

  • Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. (Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has prescribed “water pills,” ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.)
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar; these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

If you must be out in the heat, Health Departments suggests the following:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise during the hottest part of the day. Whenever you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. Plain water provides the best hydration.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels)