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Need to beat extreme heat

July 8, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

LISBON - At points south of the Ohio Valley, the heat index is in the neighborhood of 120 degrees with temperatures in the triple digits of 104, 107 degrees F. That may be miles away from northeast Ohio, but we're recording some extreme heat here, as well, with a heat index of 104, 106 degrees. That means it may be 97, but it feels like 106! Extreme heat stresses the body. Did you know that it also can affect medications you may take? When the temperature rises above 85 degrees, it's time to find ways to cool off.

"When temperatures are extremely hot and there is high humidity, the body has to work extra hard to try to maintain a normal temperature," said Ohio Department of Health Director, Ted Wymyslo, M.D. "We start to see heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion when the body is overwhelmed. It's important to pay attention to warnings."

FEMA advises that most heat disorders occur because a person has been over-exposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. People most at risk for heat injuries are infants and young children, people age 65 and older, overweight people, people who over-exert during work or exercise and people who are ill or on certain medications. Some medications can decrease the body's response to heat. Street drugs also can affect how your body responds to extreme temperatures: hallucinogens, cocaine, stimulants, anabolic steroids, club drugs like ecstasy, PCP, ketamine and bath salts. This isn't a complete list so you may want to check with your physician or pharmacist about prescribed medications.

The elderly and people with chronic health conditions are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Infants and children rely on their grownups to help them to stay cool. They are sensitive to extreme temperatures. NEVER leave them in a parked car, not even with the windows open. And the same advice applies to pets who also suffer from heat-related illness. Pets may like to ride in the car with you, but do them a favor and leave them home where they will be cool and comfortable and have ready access to water.

If your job is outdoors, you are more likely to become dehydrated and you're more likely to suffer heat-related illness. Concrete is even hotter than the air around you. Drink 2-4 cups of water per hour to rehydrate your body. Avoid alcohol and large amounts of sugar. Use and reapply sunscreen as directed. Ask if your work can be done earlier or later in the day to avoid the heat peaks of the day. Some states have their road work done overnight when the temperature is much cooler. Clothing should be light-colored and light-weight. A wide-brimmed hat also is recommended. During breaks and after your shift spend time in air-conditioned buildings.

Athletes should limit activity during the hottest hours of the day. Use sunscreen and re-apply by package directions. Workouts should be early or later in the day when it is cooler. Start activities slow and gradually pick up the pace. Drink more water: don't wait until you are thirsty. Teammates should keep an eye on each other for signs of heat exhaustion or stroke.

The symptoms for heat exhaustions are:

- heavy sweating

- pale

- muscle cramps

- tired or fainting

- weakness, dizziness, headache

- nausea, vomiting

If you suffer these symptoms move to a cooler place, lie down and loosen your clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible. Sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, call your doctor, advises the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Symptoms of heat stroke are:

- high body temperature (above 103 degrees)

- confusion, unconsciousness, dizziness, nausea

- rapid, strong pulse

- throbbing headache

- red, hot and dry skin

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. Call 911 immediately. While waiting for emergency help to arrive, move the person to a cool place and begin cooling them, perhaps spraying them with a garden hose or putting them in a cool bath to get their body temperature down until help arrives.

Whoever you are and whatever you do, if you feel faint or weak, stop all activity and get to a cool environment. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and happens when the body is unable to control its temperature.

You can no longer sweat or cool down. Heat stroke can kill or permanently disable its victims if it isn't treated immediately.

Summer is sizzling this year. Enjoy cooler environments when the heat is too extreme for outdoor activity.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities. For information about our education, prevention and treatment programs, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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