CDC Says: Stay Cool, Active, Hydrated, Safe, and Informed
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are warning people to stay cool, hydrated and informed to prevent illnesses and injuries as cities across the Midwest, South and East Coast continue to issue heat warnings and watches. Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. On average, 675 people die from complications related to extreme heat each year in the United States – more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning or any other weather event combined.
"Extreme heat affects all of us but the most vulnerable are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition," said Christopher Portier, PhD, director of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health. "Taking precautions to stay cool, hydrated and informed helps to prevent serious health effects such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke during this massive heat wave."
Heat related deaths and illness are completely preventable yet every year many people succumb to the effects of extreme heat. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. Common sense practices will keep you safe and healthy during the scorching days of summer.
Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned like shopping malls and libraries.
Drink cool non-alcoholic beverages and increase your fluid intake regardless of your activity level; increase your intake hourly if you are outdoors working or exercising. Drink more water than usual and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors are drinking enough water.
Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses especially during sports and recreational activities.
"Take breaks; stay hydrated and move physical activities to the cooler parts of the day if they can't be moved indoors," said Linda Degutis, Dr. PH, M.S.N., director of CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "We encourage people to continue sports and recreational activities as much as possible during this heat wave, but take the necessary steps to prevent heat-related illness and injury."
Be sure to gradually increase exercise frequency, duration and intensity to allow your body to adjust to the heat if you are just getting started or returning to practices (e.g. football or band rehearsals). It's also a good idea to have an exercise partner or practice partner and watch for signs and symptoms of heat illness in each other. If leading organized activities, follow established guidelines from schools, sports organizations or medical organizations regarding changing or canceling activities to prevent heat illness, and alter practices to remove the need for heavy safety gear (e.g., football pads) on hot or humid days.
Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems, debilitating injury or death, never leave infants, children or pets in parked cars; check on people who are overweight they may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat. People who suffer from chronic conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat. Know the symptoms of heat disorders, overexposure to the sun, and be ready to give first aid treatment.
Check your local news for extreme heat warnings and safety tips, or sign up for free weather alerts to your phone or e-mail from websites such as www.weather.com/mobile. Visit www.cdc.gov for tips for preventing heat sickness, keep an eye on your friends, family and neighbors and be aware of weather and heat safety information.
Centers for Disease Control
July 26, 2011