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Health Division Offers Tips on Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses

Public Date: 7/16/2013 12:00 AM
Contact: Kathleen Forzley, R.S., M.P.A., Manager, Health Division
Phone Number: 248-858-1410

Summer Heat Safety

Pontiac, Michigan -- Oakland County Health Division, under the leadership of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, urges residents to take preventative measures to prevent heat-related illnesses. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for southeast Michigan from noon Tuesday through midnight Wednesday. Individuals at greatest risk include those 65 years of age or older, infants and children up to age four, people who are ill or on certain medications, overweight people, and those who exert themselves during work or exercise.

"Excessive heat is so dangerous that in the recent years, it has caused more deaths than hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, lighting or any other weather event combined," said George Miller, director of Oakland County Health and Human Services. "It causes nearly 700 deaths each year in the U.S."

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. It is a life-threatening condition because the body loses its ability to cool itself. Symptoms vary, but usually include red, flushed skin; a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache, nausea, seizures, difficulty speaking, confusion and unconsciousness. If someone shows signs of heat stroke, call 911. Attempt to lower their body temperature by helping them get to a shaded area and by cooling their skin.

To prevent heat stroke and other heat-related illness:

  • Monitor high-risk individuals 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.
  • 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.
  • Do not leave infants, pets, or elderly people in parked cars.
  • Drink plenty of water, more than needed to satisfy thirst. Drink before thirst sets in. If exercising, drink two to four cups of water every hour.
  • Limit drinks that can cause dehydration such as coffee and soda.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Utilize protection from the sun: wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher.

Those who must go outside should try to limit activity to the morning or evening when temperatures are lower. While outside, take frequent breaks. Find air-conditioned places or shady areas to rest. Individuals who choose to engage in outdoor activities need to drink plenty of water and take the precautions listed above.

Those seeking a cooling center should contact their city, village, or township offices for the nearest location. For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit www.oakgov.com/health, contact the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533, or follow the Health Division on Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.

For media inquiries only, contact George Miller, director of the Oakland County Health & Human Services at 248-858-1293.