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Public Health Advisory Prevent Heat Related Illness

Public Date: 6/7/2011 12:00 AM
Contact: Kathy Forzley, Manager/Health Officer
Phone Number: 248-858-1410

Pontiac, MI, June 7, 2011 -- Oakland County Health Division urges all residents to protect themselves against heat related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke for the duration of the heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service in White Lake, Michigan. 

Those at greatest risk for heat related illness include individuals over 65 years of age, infants and children up to age four, overweight people, those who overexert themselves during work or exercise, and people who are ill or on certain medications.

“Among the most important precautions you can take is to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water even if you are not thirsty,” said Kathy Forzley, manager/health officer of Oakland County Health Division.  “Additionally, take plenty of breaks if you’re working or playing outdoors.”  Follow these additional prevention tips:

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
• Limit vigorous activity during hot, humid weather. Stay indoors and exercise in air conditioned areas such as malls.
• Drink more water than you need to satisfy your thirst. Limit drinks that can cause dehydration such as soda and coffee.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher.
• Seek relief in shaded areas.
• Keep cool! Use an air conditioner or go to a cool place such as a basement, neighbor’s house, community center, senior citizen center, library, shopping mall, movie theater, or cooling center.  Even an hour or two will cool you down.
• Monitor high-risk people for signs of heat related illness. Visit older neighbors and family members at least twice a day to make sure they are safe.  Watch for signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
• If you exercise in the heat, try to schedule vigorous exercise during the cooler morning or evening hours.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• NEVER leave anyone or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. It can damage the brain and other organs, and even cause death.  During heat stroke, the body loses the ability to regulate temperature in extreme heat, high humidity or during vigorous activity. Symptoms vary, but usually include red, flushed skin, a rapid strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. If you think someone is suffering from heat stroke, call 9-1-1.  Move the person to a shaded or air-conditioned area. Spray or sponge them with cold water or immerse them in a tub of cold water.  If it is not too humid, wrap the victim in a wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously. Attempt to get the body temperature lowered to 101 to 102 degrees. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body. Watch for breathing problems. If the victim refuses water, vomits, or if there are changes in consciousness, do not give them anything to eat or drink.
Heat exhaustion, while not as serious as heat stroke, is the result of extended exposure to heat and dehydration. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, sweating, dry mouth, headache, weakness, fatigue, and clammy skin. Other signs include muscle cramps and a weak, rapid pulse.
If you would like more information, contact Oakland County Health Division’s Nurse on Call at 248-858-1406 or Toll Free at 1-800-848-5533.