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Preparedness Spotlight: Beat the Summer Heat
How to Stay Safe When the Temperature Rises
Credit: Getty images
Outdoor concerts. Beach trips. Pool parties. The sizzling summer days are back, bringing all the enjoyable activities that come with this time of year. But the steamy temperatures can be dangerous: Extreme heat kills more than 600 people in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even though heat-related deaths are preventable.
Heat-related illness, or hyperthermia, can happen on hot days when a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool. This can cause damage to the brain and other critical organs. Heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, but those most at risk include infants and children up to 4 years old; people 65 years and older; and those with medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Behaviors, such as drinking alcohol and taking medications that weaken the ability to regulate body temperature, can further endanger a person during extreme heat.
Types of Heat-Related Illness
The following are some common heat-related illnesses and their symptoms.
What to do: Stop physical activity and go to a cool place. Seek medical attention if the cramps last longer than one hour, or if you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet.
What to do: Drink water and go to a cool place. Seek medical help if you are throwing up or if your symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
What to do: If a person is suffering from a heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Apply cool, damp cloths or, if you are able, put the person in a cool bath to help lower the body temperature. Do not give the person anything to drink.
The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to remain in an air-conditioned location during hot weather. This could be your home or another area with air conditioning. Here are other ways to prevent illness in extreme temperatures:
During heat waves, remember to check on people at risk for heat-related illnesses, such as elderly or homebound people. If you are attending an outdoor festival, concert or other large gathering, locate the first-aid area before or when you arrive.
For more information on extreme heat and heat-related illness, visit the CDC’s website.