With temperatures climbing into the 80s over the next few days, a New York emergency medicine physician reminds us that extreme heat and high humidity can be dangerous to anyone, but particularly to the elderly, infants, young children, obese people and those with chronic illnesses.
“During a prolonged heat wave, the biggest health problems people may experience are dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be life-threatening,” says Leonardo Huertas, MD, chairman of the emergency department at Glen Cove Hospital. “People suffer heat-related illness when their body’s temperature control system is overloaded and is unable to cool itself normally, by sweating, for example. This is when people can run into problems quickly so it is important to be prepared for hot weather.”
Dr. Huertas offers some tips on how to stay safe when temperatures sizzle:
• Be aware of what the weather will be and try to do things early in the morning or late at night, if possible
• Stay inside during the day in a cool place. If you don’t have air conditioning, take advantage of a local cooling site, such as a school or library
• Stay hydrated --drink plenty of fluids throughout the day
• If you must go outdoors, use sunblock, wear appropriate clothing, including a hat and sunglasses
If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, the person needs immediate treatment. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, disorientation, high body temperature, rapid heartbeat or loss of consciousness. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.