12/09/2022
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BladenHealthandHumanServicesThe Bladen County Health Department wants to inform you of how to stay cool and safe in extreme heat.

The following tips are important:

  • Elderly people (65 years and older), infants, children, people with chronic medical conditions, and pets are more prone to heat stress.
  • Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area. As air conditioning is important in the summer, you need to make sure that if you have one in your home, test it out to see if it is working properly. If not, it might be worth getting in touch with a hvac repair service, who can get your air conditioning in good form and ready for the summer. There’s nothing worse than knowing that you have air conditioning, but you can’t use it. I’m sure you don’t want to be that person.
  • Get informed. Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your local public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates.
  • Drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids every hour, regardless of your activity level.
  • Rest, often in shady areas.
  • Wear light clothing and protect yourself from the sun with a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen – SPF 15 or higher.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain large amounts of sugar—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. Historically, from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. In 2001, 300 deaths were caused by excessive heat exposure.

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

Even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned.

What Is Extreme Heat?

Conditions of extreme heat are defined as summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for location at that time of year. Humid or muggy conditions, which add to the discomfort of high temperatures, occur when a “dome” of high atmospheric pressure traps hazy, damp air near the ground. Extremely dry and hot conditions can provoke dust storms and low visibility. Droughts occur when a long period passes without substantial rainfall. A heat wave combined with a drought is a very dangerous situation.

This information provided by NCEH’s Health Studies Branch and the Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov .To learn more, call 800-CDC-INFO, or visit www.cdc.gov

If you would like any educational materials such as posters or brochures about heat safety for you pets or children in hot cars, please call Safe Kids Bladen County at Bladen County Health Department: at 910-872-6264