"Under these conditions, you really need to be careful in order to avoid heat-related problems like heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Dr. Michael Bessette, director of the Emergency Department. “Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke and should this happen emergency medical attention is required immediately.”
Dr. Bessette offered the following tips:
-Drink lots of water and natural juices even when you’re not feeling thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
-Stay out of the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and try to go out early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.
-Wear a hat.
-Take advantage of air conditioning or cool places like shopping malls, libraries, movie theatres, etc.
-If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes down and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house, but keep windows slightly open.
-Keep electric lights off or turned down low.
-Wear loose fitting, light clothes.
-Avoid heavy meals and using your oven.
-Avoid intense activities outdoors.
-Never leave a child for any time in a parked car or in direct sunlight.
-Be aware that certain medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature and/or may make it easier for your skin to burn. This includes both common prescription and over the counter drugs. That’s why it’s important to consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding side effects of any medication you’re taking.
-Use a fan in the house near the window to bring in the cooler air from the outside. And don’t use a fan in a closed room without windows or doors open to the outside.
Various signs of heat illness, said Dr. Bessette, include rapid breathing, weakness or fainting, headache, confusion, and feeling more tired than usual. You can help a family member or friend who demonstrates these symptoms, he said, by cooling them down with lukewarm water, giving them cool (not ice cold) water to drink, moving them to a cooler location, and removing any excess clothing they may be wearing.
“Get medical attention as soon as possible if they show any of these signs and in an emergency call 911,” he said. “In this weather, you can’t afford to wait.”