Tips for preventing heat-related illness include:
- Stay cool indoors: Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If a home does not have air conditioning, it is recommended to go to the shopping mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help their body stay cooler when going back into the heat, and to call local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in the area.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully: Try to limit outdoor activity to when it is coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that the body has a chance to recover.
- Pace: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If a person is not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, it is suggested to start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes a person's heart pound and leaves him/her gasping for breath, stop all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.
- Wear sunscreen: Sunburn affects body’s ability to cool down and can make people dehydrated. If there is need to go outdoors, protect from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
- Tip: Look for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels.
- Do not leave children in cars: Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting a heat stroke or dying. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:
- Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
- To remember that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
- When leaving the car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.
- Avoid hot and heavy meals: They add heat to the body
- Drink plenty of fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of the degree of activism and do not wait until being thirsty to drink.
- Warning: If the doctor limits the amount to drink or prescribes water pills, ask how much is recommended to drink while the weather is hot.
- Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause lost of more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Replace salt and minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals lost in sweat.
- If a person is on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions, him/her should talk with their doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.
- Keep pets hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for pets and leave the water in a shady area.
- Check for updates: Check local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips and to learn about any cooling shelters in the area.
- Know the signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.
- Use a buddy system: When working in the heat, monitor the condition of co-workers and have someone do the same in return. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If a person is 65 years of age or older, he/she should have a friend or relative call to check twice a day during a heat wave.
- Monitor those at high risk: Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:
- Infants and young children
- People 65 years of age or older
- People who are overweight
- People who overexert during work or exercise
- People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia or poor circulation.
For additional information, contact Manager of Risk Management/Environmental Health and Safety Joshua L. Cotillier or call at 608.246.6291. Also, visit the Office of Risk Management SharePoint for risk related resources.