Albany, N.Y. -- As the days get longer and warmer, State and Federal emergency management officials warn that extreme heat can be very dangerous and in some instances even fatal, so it is important to be ready.
When the air temperature or humidity rises above optimal range for comfort, evaporation is slowed and the body must work harder to maintain a normal temperature. Exposure to extreme heat can cause physical problems and may cause heat disorders or illnesses. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are most vulnerable to extreme heat.
Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas.
During extremely hot weather, you should take the following precautions:
- Stay indoors as much as you can, on lower floors if possible.
- Limit exposure to the sun and use sun block with a high sun protector factor rating (at least 15 spf) if you must be outdoors.
- If your home does not have air conditioning, spend the hottest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities.
- Use fans. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
- If you have window air conditioning, eliminate any holes or gaps around the installation.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Have a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Exercise should be done in the early morning hours between 4-7 a.m.
- Make sure there is enough food and water for pets.
Exposure to extreme heat can cause serious illness. Heat Cramps are painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles, and may be accompanied by heavy sweating. Heat Exhaustion is more serious. Symptoms include heavy sweating, but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Fainting or dizziness, weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches may occur.
If you experience any of these symptoms, sit or lie down in a cool place, loosen your clothing, and sip half a glass of water every 15 minutes. Discontinue drinking water if you become nauseous, and seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat Stroke is a severe medical emergency and can be life-threatening.. Symptoms include a high body temperature, as much as 105 degrees; hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; rapid shallow breathing; and possible loss of consciousness. If you suspect you have heat stroke, seek immediate medical assistance or call 911.
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