As the sweltering summer heat sweeps Iowa, Grundy County Public Health reminds everyone to take precautions against heat related incidents. Many simple measures can be taken to reduce the chance of getting heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Public Health encourages drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks while working outside. Staying inside and avoiding strenuous activity during the heat of the day is recommended.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 Americans die each year due to heat-related illnesses. Furthermore, the National Weather Service asserts that excessive heat was the number one weather-related killer, causing more fatalities per year than floods, lightening, tornados, hurricanes, winter storms and extreme cold from 1994 to 2003.
According to Nancy Haren, RN, BSN, Public Health manager, "Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees but the elderly and very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses." Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. If someone becomes overheated they should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a person refused water, vomits, or loses consciousness, call 911 immediately.
Haren encourages residents to practice hot weather safety including:
Dress for the heat. Wear light-colored clothes. Light colors reflect the suns rays. It is also and good idea to wear a hat or use an umbrella.
Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
Eat frequent, small meals. Avoid high protein foods with increase body heat.
Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.
Stay indoors when possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine out of the sun. If a cooling station, such as a public library is open, go there. Catch up on your reading! Electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
Be a Good Neighbor. During heat waves check in on elderly neighbors and those who do not have air conditioning. The elderly often do not feel warm, and may overheat and not realize they are in danger.