Summer Safety Sense – Avoiding Deadly Heat Sicknesses
It’s getting hot in the Central Valley. With summer heat comes heat-linked sicknesses and they can be deadly. High temperatures cause more than 600 deaths each year1. Causes include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. But these deaths can be prevented.
For starters, observe the Summer HEAT SAFETY Rule of Five:
- Drink plenty of water
- Wear light clothing
- Use sunscreen
- Stay indoors
- Skip being outdoors during the hottest part of the day (late afternoon)
Next, observe for the following symptoms, for yourself and those around you, so you can take advised actions.
Is it heat stroke?
- High body heat of 103° or higher
- Red, hot, dry, or damp skin
- Faintness, sickness, confusion
- Strange behavior
- Rapid pulse or throbbing headache
- Losing consciousness (passing out)
If someone is showing these signs do NOT give them fluids to drink. Call 911 and get medical help quickly, heat stroke is a medical emergency! Try to cool them down by putting them in a shady zone and use cold towels to cool the person off.
Is it heat exhaustion?
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, and clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Tired or weak
- Fainting (passing out)
Trying to cool the person down can help with these signs, including moving to a cool place, sipping water, loosening clothes, placing wet cloths on the body or taking a cool bath. But if the person is throwing up or signs last longer than an hour, or get worse, than get medical help right away.
Is it heat cramps?
- Muscle pain or spasms
- Heavy sweating during hard workouts
Stop action, drink water, or a sports drink, and wait for cramps to go away before coming back to what you were doing. If cramps last longer than an hour, you’re on a low salt food plan, or have heart problems, then seek medical help right away.
Is it heat rash?
- Red groups of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin
- Usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases
Get in a cool, dry place and keep the rash dry and use a powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash.
These summer sicknesses can affect anyone. But, the most at risk groups are:
- Newborns and young children
- Older adults
- People with heart or circulatory problems or other long-term sickness
- People who work outdoors
- People taking meds that alter sweat – or caution against sun exposure
- People exercising outside
Be safe this summer, look out for your loved ones, stay in touch with the latest news, and find a nearby cooling hub.
Heat Hotline: 209.558.8035, http://www.stanemergency.org/naturalDisasters/heat.shtm.
Cooling Zones (Summer 2019): http://www.stanemergency.org/pdf/cooling-locations.pdf.
San Joaquin County
Office of Emergency Office of Services: 209.953.6200, https://www.sjgov.org/department/oes/
Call 209-953-6200 for upcoming information on cooling centers.
- 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather! https://www.cdc.gov/features/extremeheat/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat – Related Illnesses https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html
- “Ready: Extreme Heat” – website of the Department of Homeland Security, https://www.ready.gov/heat
© Health Plan of San Joaquin, June 2019, permission to reprint in full with attribution.