Extreme Heat: Avoid, Spot, Treat

Heat-related illnesses are caused by extreme heat events and occur when the body is unable to cool itself. The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke (sun stroke), heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. 

Between May and September of 2019, heat-related illness sent 1,256 New Yorkers to the emergency room and hospitalized 133 (data excludes New York City). Follow these steps to avoid, spot, and treat heat-related illnesses. 

Avoid: Tips to Beat the Heat! 

Check on friends and neighbors at high risk for heat-related illness: infants, young children, older adults, and people  with chronic medical conditions. 

Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks. 

Stay out of the sun and in an air-conditioned location, if possible. 

NEVER leave people or pets in closed, parked vehicles (even with the windows cracked). 

Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool. Don’t forget sunscreen and a ventilated hat, even if it’s cloudy out! 

Take breaks often and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). 

Spot: Signs of Heat-Related Illness 

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion have many similar symptoms such as dizziness, headache, upset stomach or vomiting, and fainting or passing out; however, the differences can help distinguish what type of heat-related illness the person is experiencing. 

Heat Stroke signs include a body temperature above 103°F; red, hot, dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; and confusion.

Heat Exhaustion signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, and weakness.

If you see any of these signs, seek medical help immediately.

Treat: What to Do While Waiting for Help 

If you think someone might be experiencing a heat stroke, move them to a shady area or move them inside. Do not give them fluids. You can help cool the body by placing the person in a cool (not cold) bath or shower, spraying them with a garden hose or sponging their body with cool water, or by fanning. Continue efforts to cool the person until help arrives or their body temperature falls below 102°F and stays there. 

If you think someone might be experiencing heat exhaustion, get medical attention if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour. Cool the body with cool, nonalcoholic beverages; a cool (not cold) bath, shower, or sponge bath; and move them to an air-conditioned room.

Seek medical help immediately if symptoms are severe or if victim has heart problems or high blood pressure. 

For more information, visit ready.gov/heat. You can find places to cool off at www.health.ny.gov/environmental/weather/cooling/index.htm and on their Facebook Page @TiogaCountyPublicHealth. 

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