Heat Can Lead To Serious Health Problems
The National Weather Service is forecasting triple-digit temperatures from now through the weekend for areas in the high desert, including the Santa Clarita Valley.
The Los Angeles County Health Officer would like to remind everyone that precautions should be taken, especially by those people sensitive to the heat.
“While people don’t need to be told it’s hot outside, they do need to be reminded to take care of themselves, children, the elderly, and pets when the weather gets hotter,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “When temperatures are high, prolonged sun exposure may cause dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
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“Never leave children, elderly people, or pets unattended in closed vehicles, even with the windows ‘cracked,’ because temperatures inside can quickly rise to life-threatening levels.”
For a list of cooling centers and additional information on heat-related illnesses and prevention, please visit the Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, or call the LA County Information line at 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone within the county.
Heat may worsen the effects of poor air quality in areas of heavy smog. If you plan to be outdoors, take precautions to protect yourself from the heat. Symptoms of dehydration and heat cramps include dizziness, fatigue, faintness, headaches, muscle cramps, and increased thirst. Individuals with these symptoms should be moved to a cooler, shaded place and given water or sport drinks.
More severe symptoms such as diminished judgment, disorientation, pale and clammy skin, a rapid and weak pulse, and/or fast and shallow breathing may indicate heat exhaustion or impending heat stroke and requires immediate medical attention.
Several tips for beating the heat include:
• Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
• Drink water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks often (do not wait until you are thirsty), and avoid drinking alcohol.
• Offer help to those in your neighborhood with limited access to air conditioning and transportation, such as seniors or those who are ill. Check on them frequently or take them to a location with air conditioning.
• During peak heat hours stay in an air-conditioned area. If you don’t have access to air conditioning in your home, visit public facilities such as shopping malls, parks, and libraries to stay cool.
• Avoid unnecessary exertion, such as vigorous exercise during peak sun hours, if you are outside or in a non-air conditioned building.
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• Stay out of the sun if you do not need to be in it. When in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim, and loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from sun damage.
• Symptoms include muscular pains and spasms, usually in the stomach or leg muscles.
• Usually results from heavy exertion, such as exercise, during extreme heat.
• Although heat cramps are the least severe of all heat-related problems, they are usually the first signal that the body is having trouble coping with hot temperatures. Heat cramps should be treated immediately with rest, fluids and getting out of the heat.
• Seek medical attention if pain is severe or nausea occurs.
• Symptoms include sweating, pale and clammy skin, fatigue, headache, dizziness, shallow breathing and a weak pulse.
• Heat exhaustion should be treated immediately with rest in a cool area, sipping water or a sports drink, applying cool and wet cloths and elevating the feet 12 inches.
• If left untreated, victims may go into heat stroke.
• Seek medical attention if the person does not respond to the above, basic treatment.
• Symptoms include flushed, hot and dry skin, increased body temperature, confusion, shallow breathing, a weak, rapid pulse, and possible seizure.
• Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness and occurs when a person’s temperature control system, which produces sweat, stops working. Heat stroke may lead to brain damage and death. Seek medical attention immediately.