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The risk for heat-related illness and death is higher for infants and the elderly, whose internal thermostats do not regulate body temperature well. People with chronic medical conditions, outdoor workers and people who exercise outside are also at increased risk.
Stay cool and help prevent heat-related illness by following these tips:
- Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
- Avoid alcohol and limit drinks with caffeine.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher).
- Never leave children or pets in a parked car.
- Pets can suffer from heat-related illness too. If your pet spends its days outside, make sure it has plenty of fresh water and shade.
- If outdoors, slow your pace and take frequent rest breaks.
- Remember, some playground equipment can get very hot so parents should do a touch test before letting their children play on it and be sure kids wear shoes to protect feet from hot pavement or surfaces.
- Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a public building where you can cool off.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but when temperatures reach the high 90s, fans won’t prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath or move to an air-conditioned place.
- Check on elderly friends and neighbors. Make sure they’re staying cool and hydrated.
Heat exhaustion can develop following exposure for several days to high temperatures. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, cold, pale clammy skin, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.
Heatstroke, the most serious heat-related illness, is a medical emergency characterized by a body temperature of 103 degrees F or greater. Symptoms include hot, red skin, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, disorientation, delirium, and coma.
Anyone suffering from these conditions should be moved into the shade or air conditioning. If heatstroke or serious heat exhaustion is suspected, get emergency medical assistance.