RIDOH urges precautions to prevent heat-related illness

RIDOH urges precautions to prevent heat-related illness

The Rhode Island Department of Health urges all Rhode Islanders to take certain precautions over the coming days to keep themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors safe during the extreme heat.

“Extreme heat can be a serious health concern for anyone. However, extreme heat can be particularly dangerous for younger children, older adults, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure,” said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. “With the temperatures that are forecast for the next few days, people should be checking on each other, staying well hydrated, limiting their exposure to the heat, and watching for signs of heat-related illness.”

To protect yourself and your family from heat-related illness, take the following precautions:
• Drink more fluids than usual, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids. Avoid alcohol or liquids that contain high amounts of sugar.
• Check on friends and neighbors, particularly older adults and those who are caring for young children.
• Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, see the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency list of cooling centers at http://www.riema.ri.gov/coolingcenters/index.php .
• Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat if you must be outside.
• Limit outdoor activities, especially at mid-day. If you exercise outdoors, move your workout to a morning or evening time.
• If you work outside, wear sunscreen, pace your activity, stay hydrated, and check on co-workers.
• Take cool showers or baths to cool down, particularly if you’re unable to be in an air-conditioned location.
• Avoid turning on your oven, if possible. It will make your house hotter.
• Never leave young children or pets in parked cars, even with the windows down.
• If you have special healthcare needs, consider enrolling in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry. Enrolling in RISNER lets police, fire, and other first responders in your community better prepare for and respond to your needs during an emergency. When enrolling in the registry, a person provides information about their healthcare needs (for example, information about mobility issues, information about a visual or hearing impairment, information about the use of a life support system, such as a respirator). For more information or to enroll, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/emergency/about/specialneedsregistry/index.php .

About heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, or clammy skin; a fast or weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. Individuals who have symptoms of heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, loosen clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body down. Seek medical attention if vomiting begins, or if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

About heat stroke

Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees F) combined with hot, red, dry, or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. 911 should be called immediately. Individuals experiencing heat stroke symptoms should also be moved to a cooler environment. Apply cool cloths or place the person into a cool bath to lower body temperature. Fans and ice packs can also be used to cool someone. Ice packs should be placed on the neck, under the armpit, or in the groin area (because these are the areas where large arteries are closest to the surface of the skin).

More information about heat stroke and heat exhaustion is available online at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html , as are additional summer safety tips, http://www.health.ri.gov/seasonal/summer/ .